Watch a Wild California Condor Chick—Live!

April 4, 2016
 A California Condor egg hatches at a nest in the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The original egg of this condor pair went missing on March 20, 2016; it was probably taken by a predator. The egg was replaced with a captive-bred egg from Los Angeles Zoo.
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Wild female California Condor #111 is a mom again. It’s one of those touching stories of life carrying on despite a string of losses. This female, along with her mate, #509,  lost their own egg this season (probably to a predator) and their chick last season died of lead poisoning. A ready-to-hatch incubator egg from the California Condor Recovery Program’s captive breeding effort at Los Angeles Zoo was tucked under #111 over the weekend and the hatching got underway.

By late morning April 4, the chick was about half-way out of the egg. And for the first time in history, anyone with an Internet connection could watch a wild California Condor egg hatch by viewing a live camera focused on this nest in a cave at the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County, California. The camera was made live for the public on hatching day by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with partners, including the Cornell Lab which is carrying the live images on our Bird Cams website.

“We’re anxious and excited to not only be able to share this experience with the world, but also to open up the opportunity for more people to learn about California Condors, what makes them such remarkable birds, and the threats they face in the wild,” said Joseph Brandt, condor biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Brandt will answer questions about the condor nest from the public during an online livestream video chat hosted on our Bird Cams website on April 14, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

How was the substitute egg replaced in the condor nest? Watch this short video and find out.

“This live cam takes the viewer right into the nest cave with the condors to watch their behavior and hear the sounds they make,” says Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams manager at the Cornell Lab. “We hope it will really raise awareness about these spectacular but highly-endangered birds and the threats they face. We know from past experience that people form a real emotional connection to the birds they see on the cams as they witness a part of nature they’ve never seen before.”

In 1982 the California Condor population dropped to only 22 birds. Thanks to intensive, ongoing recovery efforts by multiple public and private partners, including a captive breeding program, the California Condor population has grown to around 430 birds worldwide, with more than half of the population flying free.

Get answers to commonly asked questions about the condor nest camera, the egg, and the parents.

The Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge nest camera was made possible through the financial and technical support of the following project partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceSanta Barbara ZooCornell Lab of Ornithology, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Friends of California Condors Wild and Free.

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