Central Coast California Condor Count= 70+ free-flying and six active nests (*June 1, 2015)

July 14, 2015

Redwood nestling doing well

Veterinarian Amy Wells conducts a physical exam on 799
     60 day old Condor Nestling 799 (Chick of Condors #167 and #190) passed his first nest check with flying colors! Biologists tested his blood for lead poisoning, did a physical check, and checked the nest for trash and all looked well with 799. Great job Mom and Dad!
Stay tuned...799's final nest check is schedule for the end of August.
We have 5 wild nestlings still going strong this year, let's hope they stay out of harms way and continue to succeed.

July 13, 2015

Final check up for wild nestling

Condor #773 (Chick of Condors #251 and #222) had his final 120 day nest check this week. During this nest check biologists did a physical checkup, a blood draw to test for lead poising, and checked the nest for trash.  Because this was his last nest check before he fledges, Condor # 773 got his first transmitter!!  In a few months be on the lookout for a bird with a Green 73!!! 

June 26, 2015

Miracle released!

     After a whole month of chelation treatment for lead poisoning at Oakland Zoo, Condor 538 "Miracle", was finally released towards the end of June. After being trapped and tested with a lead score of 170 ug/dL (birds are treated if they have over 35 ug/dL), she was admitted to the Oakland Zoo for chelation treatment.  Because her lead score was so high, it took a long time for it to drop low enough for her to be released back to the wild.
     Thank you Oakland Zoo for all the incredible work you did for helping Miracle get healthy again!!

June 03, 2015

Mystery Unraveled!

       We finally caught Mystery! Condor #769, also known as Mystery, showed up for the first time on our release slope this last winter. She was raised and fledged without any assistance from VWS Biologists. After several months flying around without transmitters, Condor #769 was trapped during our spring trap up!!
After a blood test biologists were able to determine that Mystery is a girl and that her biological parents are male 242 "Red" and female 311 "Loner" . We are very excited Mystery is a girl because we have so many young males in our flock.
After getting a vaccination, a brand new transmitter, and passing her lead test, Condor #769 was released back into the wild.  Keep your eye out as you are driving the coast, you might just be lucky enough to see her. Her tag is a Green 69. Good luck Mystery, fly free!!

May 31, 2015

May 2015 Condor Field Notes

Greetings from Coastal Condor Country!  

We have moved our Condor Field Notes to our Blog page, so please be sure to come back here for our monthly condor updates. Thank you! 

May has been another productive month for the condor crew, as we move from spring to summer.   We started the month by welcoming Darren Gross and Chris Carlino onto the Big Sur Condor Crew! Darren has previous field experience tracking New Zealand Falcons and Chris comes to us with experience helping Sandhill Cranes.  These new interns will be responsible for releasing this year’s pre-release cohort in San Luis Obispo County as we expand the condor population south along the coast.

Condor at Sunset (Photo- David Moen)
We are now at the “beginning” of fire season and in the middle of the month our partners at Pinnacles National Park witnessed a fire near their condor flight pen.  Safety protocols require that any birds in flight pens potentially threatened by fire be immediately released, so despite having recently trapped “Blue Curls”, Condor 583, she was set free and without any transmitters on!  Her moment to fly without her tracking hardware was short lived however.  Only a few days later she was trapped in the Big Sur flight pen and because she had a low lead-blood score now roams free with working transmitters!    

Condor 799 (Photo- David Moen)
This month we had another nest surprise!  A ninth nest of this 2015 season, was identified for the central California flock deep in a Big Sur canyon.   It was discovered on the 17th after the chick had hatched.  We estimated the chick to be 10-12 days old. This chick was assigned the very last number in the 700 series, 799!

In opposite news, we had three nests fail this month. Unfortunately, 351 and 418’s giant redwood nest along the coast fizzled out as we noticed their attendance pattern change mid month. Additionally, Pinnacles National Park reported that 340 and 236’s nest inside the Park had failed, following on the heels of  405 and 525's nest failure.  Unfortunately, we have no plausible clues as to why these nests failed, but we do know that they were all first time pairings, so maybe next year they will have more success.   With these losses and our newly discovered coast nest, we are now following the progress of 6 condor nests in Central California.        

David with Condor 773 during health check
Meanwhile, we did a 60 day health check on 251 and 222’s chick, who now has the studbook number 773!  This chick was feisty during its handling inside the nest cave and all assessments showed healthy and robust development of this young ball of fluffy, gray and white down- colors which also help it blend perfectly into the urate-streaked sidewalls of its nursery cave.   

Chris Carlino and Melissa Clark with 769 "Mystery"

Condor 615 tested low in lead

Finally, our spring trapping has started in Big Sur.  So far we have trapped 8 birds, including "Mystery", and all of them had low enough blood-lead scores to be released- so we are off to a good start! 

Until next time, 
VWS Condor Crew