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California Condors Born In Wild

A fourth California condor chick of this year has apparently hatched in the wild. Biologists working to save the endangered species say it would be the third chick to hatch in California this year, with another in Arizona. Three others produced in the wild in recent years included two who never hatched, and one who died.

The newest chick in the wild is believed to have hatched Tuesday in a deep cave hidden by bushes, near the boundary between the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Los Padres National Forest and privately-owned land. Although biologists cannot see the chick, increased activity by its parents suggest the bird has hatched.

The chick´s parents were born eight years ago at the Los Angeles Zoo and released into the wild in 1995, as part of the effort to re-establish the largest birds in North America.

Elsewhere in the Los Padres National Forest, two other condor pairs continue to raise their chicks born seven weeks and three weeks ago. They are the first California condor chicks to hatch in the wild in 18 years. Another condor chick is believed to have hatched near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, also obscured from view.

The California condors were down to a population of only 22 in the early 1980s. After some free-flying condors were captured, an aggressive breeding program has raised the numbers to 70 in the wild, 16 awaiting release, and 113 others still in captive breeding programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and Boise, Idaho.