North America’s largest land birds are back streaming live on the California Condor cam from the dry, craggy cliffs of Southern California’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The 2022 breeding season features a new nest cave—Tom’s Canyon—and a first-time couple. Female condor (#846) and and her mate (#462) just hatched a single chick on May 14.
Meet The Parents: Male #462 brings experience to Tom’s Canyon, having successfully nested here twice with a previous mate in 2018 and 2020. This is female #846’s first nesting attempt and has been an attentive mom so far. Viewers can identify who’s visiting by the adults’ wing tags. The male wears a white tag with a black “62,” and the female #846 wears a pink tag with a black “46.”
Condor Conservation: Just decades ago, California Condors were on the brink of extinction, with only 22 birds left in 1982. Thanks to years of captive breeding and conservation recovery efforts, the world population has soared to more than 500 in 2022, but threats remain.
Lead poisoning remains the top killer of California Condors. These giant scavengers succumb to poisoning when they eat carcasses containing fragments of lead bullets, which they may also feed to their chicks. Ingestion of “microtrash” (small coin-sized trash items like bullet casings or bottle caps) is also a major threat to chicks by causing impactions in the digestive tract, which can lead to developmental issues or even death.
But the team behind the recovery effort is much like the birds they study: resilient. They actively manage the entire wild population in Southern California in order to combat lead poisoning, and they enlist tools like nest cameras and routine nest checks (by scaling cliffs and wrangling 20-pound condornestlings) to ensure each wild-hatched chick has the best chance of survival.
Keeping Up With The Condors: Don’t forget that you can check in on all of the on-cam action on Twitter @CornellCondors, and make sure to visit the Condor cam’s FAQ page to learn more about condor natural history and conservation efforts.
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