There has now been a visual confirmation of the chick at the Grand Canyon
nest cave! Eddie Fetes of the Peregrine Fund made the long hike into the
canyon for the observation. So it's official, we have two wild-hatched
condor chicks in Arizona for 2005. Condors 123 & 127 appear to be doing
a good job tending to the chick.
Condors 114 & 126 are also diligently tending to their chick at the
Vermilion Cliff's nest cave. The next good news I hope to share with you
will be the fledging of both chicks this fall!
News from California
The California project has unfortunately not had the same good fortune.
They had three nesting attempts in southern California this year. One
nest ended in failure and an intact egg was abandoned. The egg was too
desiccated to determine cause of failure. The two other nesting attempts
resulted in the hatching of two chicks. One chick is currently in
captivity after surgery to remove micro-trash from the bird's gizzard.
The other chick was removed from the nest after it appeared unhealthy
and unfortunately died the next day. Necropsy results are pending.
The ingestion of trash by condor chicks is not a new issue in CA. They
have unfortunately experienced trash ingestion issues for a few
seasons now. Let's hope they find a solution to this problem, and let's
hope we don't see trash ingestion rear its ugly head in AZ.
Condor 314 was re-released with the two remaining condors that were
transferred from California (Condors 270 and 287) on 19 August 2005.
As you may recall, condor 314 recovered from a traumatic injury this
summer (see previous updates). This brings the total number of
free-flying condors in Arizona to 55 birds (although some birds are
being temporarily held for behavior reasons). There are still 8 birds
in the flight pen awaiting release for this fall/winter. The World
Center for Birds of Prey will also be sending us several more birds
for release in 2006.
Condor movements altered a bit last month. Condors can still be viewed
at the Vermilion Cliffs release site, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon,
and the North Kaibab Forest. There are also between 2-10 condors that
have been making regular trips to Utah, near Zion National Park. The
trend for birds visiting Utah seems to be increasing, while the
number of birds at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon decreased in August.
Condor Symposium at the AOU 2005 Meeting in Santa Barbara, CA
A California condor symposium was held on 27 August 2005 as part of the
annual AOU meeting. Over 300 professionals attended the symposium,
including representatives from the Peregrine Fund and AZ Game and Fish.
There were four presentations on the condor project in AZ. First,
Chris Woods of the Peregrine Fund presented an update of the AZ project,
identifying lead toxicity as the leading cause of death. Next, Chris
Parish of the P. Fund presented detailed lead exposure data, stressing
the seriousness of this problem. Then, Grainger Hunt of the P. Fund
presented lead bullet fragmentation data. The radiographs showing the
hundreds of lead fragments in the deer carcasses spoke for themselves!
Grainger also illustrated the correlation between condor movements onto
the Kaibab Plateau during the deer-hunting season with sharp increases
in lead exposure rates. Finally, I presented an update on the efforts
to reduce lead exposure in AZ. The Peregrine Fund did a great job
setting the stage for this presentation. I outlined our extensive
education efforts, our scientific research to determine the causes of
lead exposure in condors, the formation of a voluntary lead reduction
coalition for sportsmen, and our free-non-lead ammo program for deer
hunts on Units 12A and 12B this fall. The praise by the condor community
was overwhelming. Thanks to the work from AZGF employees like Bruce
Taubert and Ron Sieg, as well as help from our cooperating partners,
we're taking major steps in the right direction on the AZ condor project!
Let's keep getting that voluntary lead reduction message out there. And
let's hope we see a reduction in lead exposure this fall!
Total population -- 277
Captive -- 156
Wild -- 121
Arizona -- 57 (including the two 2005 chicks)
8 awaiting release
California -- 55
9 awaiting release
Baja -- 9
7 awaiting release