Endangered California Condors Transported to Grand Canyon

29 October 1996
One California Condor from The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey will join five condors from California for a journey to a new home in Arizona on the Vermilion Cliffs near the Grand Canyon. All six condors hatched in 1996. The condors are expected to arrive at the Vermilion Cliffs at noon on Tuesday, 29 October 1996. Those interested in the release can follow the activities on The Peregrine Fund's Notes from the Field.

The condors will be placed in six adjoining plywood "apartments" facing a 20 by 40 foot release pen. After several weeks the birds will be allowed to leave their individual compartments and mingle in the pen's common area to become better acquainted as family members, acclimate to their surroundings, and begin learning to fly. The birds will be fed carrion daily until they are released.

The condors are the first of their species to be seen in Arizona since 1924. They hatched in May and June of this year, and will be released from their "apartments" into the wild in December. At this point, the birds will have learned to fly (fledgling occurs at about six months of age) but are expected to stay close to the release site as they begin exploring their new home.

"This release is another step toward the recovery of the California Condor and we are pleased to put the release expertise we have developed over the past twenty years to use." stated Dr. William A. Burnham, President of The Peregrine Fund. "The Grand Canyon area is an excellent location for the California Condor since it is the best habitat in the country and should provide excellent opportunities for public viewing," finished Burnham.

This will be the first time a group of non-human-reared condors has been returned to the wild. Condor recovery team biologists are anxious to learn how parent-reared condors will fare in the wild. Researchers will closely monitor the development of social and survival skills of this population to refine captive breeding and reintroduction techniques.

The Peregrine Fund is conducting the historic Arizona release. This will include daily monitoring, radio-telemetry to track the birds as they disperse from the release site, and creating feeding stations to guide the birds movements.

The bird from Boise will be in a large plastic flight kennel and flown on a BLM plane to Burbank, California where the other five condors will be loaded. The BLM plane will depart Burbank early on the 29th and fly to the Marble Canyon Airstrip, about 15 miles from the release pen on Vermilion Cliffs. A helicopter donated by the Salt River Project will be used to shuttle biologists, condors, and equipment to the release pen.

There are currently 121 California Condors in the world -- 17 in the Los Padres National Forest in California and 104 in captive breeding facilities (World Center for Birds of Prey, Zoological Society of San Diego, and Los Angeles Zoo). The captive breeding colonies currently house 16 breeding pairs of condors.

The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 at Cornell University in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon throughout much of North America. The efforts to save this species resulted in breakthroughs in the field of endangered species research. In addition to the California Condor and Peregrine Falcon, The Peregrine Fund is involved with conservation projects around the world with species such as the Philippine Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, the Mauritius Kestrel, Orange-breasted Falcon, `Alala or Hawaiian Crow, Hawaiian forest birds, and other species. In addition, The Peregrine Fund has numerous other programs around the world that focus on preserving endangered environments (e.g., forests, wetlands, etc.) and improving local people's conservation ability.

For more information, contact:

Erin Katzner

Director of Global Engagement
Main Phone: 208-362-3716
Direct Phone: 208-362-8277
The Peregrine Fund