Monday, February 14, 2011

The first condor egg of the season appears!

Last week, biologists at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey discovered an egg laid by a 13-year-old California Condor at the Boise, Idaho, facility. The center houses 57 condors -- the largest captive flock on Earth -- and it anticipates 19 pairs to produce eggs.

“It’s always a thrill to see the first egg of the season,” said Marti Jenkins, who oversees The Peregrine Fund’s condor propagation program. “For the next few months, we will have our hands full making sure that all the eggs and chicks are healthy and ultimately ready for life in the wild.”

In 14 days, biologists will determine whether a chick is growing inside the new egg. If it is fertile, the egg will be artificially incubated until it is ready to hatch. Then, it will be either returned to its parents or swapped with an egg from another breeding facility and raised by foster parents to ensure genetic diversity among the small but growing population of condors. The egg is expected to hatch in early April.

After hatching, chicks are raised by their natural or foster parents for about a year before they can be released to the wild. The Peregrine Fund’s release site is located at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument near the Grand Canyon. After the birds are released, the field staff monitors their movements via tracking equipment attached to the birds’ wings and takes action if the condors are poisoned, injured or exhibiting behavior that makes them susceptible to predation or persecution.
Juvenile California Condor J7 suns near the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of Chris Parish/The Peregrine Fund

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