Zion National Park biologists confirmed the first flight of California Condor nestling #1111 (photo above) from its nest cave on the cliff just north of Angels Landing. This flight occurred on August 28th, making Condor #1111 the second wild-hatched nestling to successfully fledge in Zion National Park. Condor #1111 is the sibling of condor #1000 (aka 1K) who was the first wild-hatched nestling to fledge in Zion National Park in 2019. Biologists estimate the egg was laid mid-February and hatched mid-April. Zion National Park is a member of The Southwest Condor Working Group that includes state wildlife agencies of Utah and Arizona, federal partners including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Forest Service, and private partners including The Peregrine Fund who manages releases and day to day monitoring for the population.
The mother, condor 409 (tag 9) hatched in 2006 at the San Diego Zoo and was released at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument release site in 2008. The father, condor 523 (tag J3) hatched in 2009 at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, ID and was released at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument release site in Arizona in 2011. The breeding pair have been together for four years since 409’s first mate (condor 337) died from lead poisoning in 2016. This is condor 409’s fourth confirmed nestling. Park rangers and volunteers are keeping a close eye on nestling #1111, who is estimated to be 4.5 months old. Although most condors take their first flight when they are about 6 months old, young condor #1111 is still within the observed age range for fledging. Condor #1111 will continue to be dependent on its parents for the next 12-14 months. Because the adults spend so much time caring for their young, wild condor pairs normally produce one egg every other year.
In 1982, only 22 California Condors were left in the world. Due to the steep decline of the population, the remaining wild condors were captured and held in captivity for safekeeping which gave rise to a tremendously successful captive breeding program that has allowed for reintroduction of the endangered birds back to the wild beginning first in 1992 in California and followed in 1996 in Arizona. The population now numbers more than 500 with over half of those flying free in the wild. 103 condors currently fly free in the Arizona/Utah population. Each bird, whether produced in the wild, or in captivity, is given a studbook number to differentiate it from others, and this most recent nestling received studbook number 1111. A milestone that captures the essence of the population’s progress towards recovery.
This 1111th condor is the product of the united efforts of citizens, biologists, government, and non-government agencies to keep these magnificent birds flying free.
"We are incredibly excited to see a second nestling fledge at Zion National Park," Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Avian Conservation Program Coordinator Russ Norvell said. "The recovery of this endangered species requires a lot of strong partnerships and hard work by so many, and we are thrilled to see some of those efforts paying off. We look forward to the continuing recovery of these unique birds."
“We are elated to see the continued success of this condor pair in Zion National Park. It is certainly an occasion for celebration in the recovery effort, yet again demonstrating the resiliency of the California Condor. What a spectacular site, to see wild-hatched condors soaring amongst the towering rock formations of Zion National Park.” Tim Hauck, Condor Program Manager for The Peregrine Fund.
40,000 years ago, condors scavenged on mammoths and giant sloths, and would have been found throughout much of North America. California Condors are now limited to a small range in Arizona, Utah, northern Mexico, and California. Condors nest in caves or large crevices. A female will typically lay her egg on the floor of the cave. Both parents share incubation duties lasting approximately 57 days. The nestling can take up to three days to hatch. Nestling condors are fed regurgitated meat by both of their parents. Lead poisoning is the primary cause of condor mortality and a remaining obstacle to the recovery of the population. Hunters and others are helping to reduce the amount of lead in the environment, improving chances for condor survival.
Park officials wants to remind rock climbers that all routes on the east face of Angels Landing remain closed until further notice due to condor activity. For more information on cliff closures, please visit Climbing - Zion National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
For more information on the California Condor recovery program, visit: http://www.peregrinefund.org/projects/california-condor
The Peregrine Fund's live stream of the release event is linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrrtDmPkiLw
To see more California Condors, take flight, join us Saturday, Sept 25, for the 26th annual condor release at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Details: https://peregrinefund.org/news-release/watch-california-condors-take-their-first-flights-wild-during-26th-annual-person-and
For more information on the Fish and Wildlife Service Condor program website: https://www.fws.gov/cno/es/calcondor/Condor.cfm