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Condor chick hatched outside Pinnacles National Monument; public can view

A pair of California condors recently discovered incubating an egg in the first San Benito County nest in more than 70 years are now caring for a wild-hatched chick. The birds are nesting in a shallow cave high on a vertical cliff face located at the RS Bar Guest Ranch in Paicines, not far from the Pinnacles National Monument.

In an unprecedented opportunity, the owners of the RS Bar Guest Ranch are teaming up with Pinnacles Partnership to offer limited public viewing of the nest site.

Biologists Scott Scherbinski of the National Park Service and Joe Burnett of the Ventana Wildlife Society used ropes to descend to the nest on April 17. The male condor, identified as Condor 313, was present at the time, and appeared to be incubating the pair’s solitary egg. After briefly soaring from the nest a few times, the parent condor returned as the biologists swapped the pair’s egg for one that had been delivered the night before from the Los Angeles Zoo.

The new egg was “pipping,” or showing signs that the chick inside was about to emerge, and the young bird successfully hatched on Saturday, April 18, according to Daniel George, Condor Program Manager at Pinnacles National Monument.

Since it was not known if the pair’s original egg was viable, the trade enhanced the pair’s chances for breeding success. But there’s another compelling reason for the endeavor, according to George.

“The California Recovery Team has recommended transport of all wild laid eggs from the Central California flock to captive breeding centers in order to assess possible contamination of the eggs by DDE and PCBs,” said Burnett of Ventana Wildlife Society. “The study is being done to determine if these will prove to be influencing factors in the growth of this area’s condor population. All wild laid eggs will be replaced with viable eggs laid in captivity.” DDE is a derivative of the once-popular pesticide DDT, and both it and PCBs are persistent environmental toxins. [For more information on this issue, please contact Burnett, Wildlife Biologist with Ventana Wildlife Society at 831-455-9514.]


Condor nest found on San Benito County ranch — first in 70 years

By Kevin Howe

Monterey Herald
Posted: 04/21/2009 07:52:22 AM PDT
Updated: 04/21/2009 07:54:33 AM PDT

The first condor nest in 70 years has been discovered on a San Benito County ranch and verified by U.S. National Park Service biologists.

The nest is located on a high rocky cliff on a private ranch outside of Pinnacles National Monument, where condors were reintroduced into the wild in 2003, said Carl Brenner, chief of interpretation and education at the Pinnacles.

The National Park Service, he said, is working with the ranchers on a plan to monitor the nest, adding that normal ranching operations will continue.

Condors raised in captivity and released into the wild are fitted with radio telemetry devices that enable wildlife biologists to track their movements and monitor their activity. The devices indicated two condors engaging in nesting activity in the ranch area in March, and biologists have seen the male condor turning the egg. Condor parents share egg incubation duties.

The two nesting condors have been identified as Condor 313, a 6 1/2 -year-old male released at the Pinnacles in 2004, and Condor 303, a 6-year-old female released on the Big Sur Coast by the Ventana Wildlife Society.

Condor eggs take an average of 57 days to hatch, Brenner said, and the nestlings take their first flights about six months after hatching, which means the condor chick could fly in October.

Two community forums on the California condor recovery program are scheduled this week, Brenner said: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pinnacles Visitor Center inside the park's east entrance at the campground and 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the King City Library community room, 402 Broadway Ave.

For information about the condor program at the Pinnacles, see or call 389-4485.


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