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This is long, but has some great information--just about all you might
want to know about California Condors--and, no, the current "wild"
population is not "countable".
Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
[log in to unmask]

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Michael Evans <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Thu Oct 10, 2002  09:05:58 AM US/Central
> To: SD Birds <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [SDBIRDS] Condors in Baja
>
> Condors are back in Baja, slow to celebrate
>
> 3 balk at freedom, huddle in their cage in remote mountains
>
>
> By Bruce Lieberman
> STAFF WRITER
>
> October 10, 2002
>
>
> For the first time in more than six decades, the endangered California
> condor was invited to return to part of its historic range in Baja
> California yesterday.
>
> But when wildlife biologists opened a door in an aviary to free three
> birds, they politely declined.
>
> "Right now, they're still in the pen," researcher Mike Wallace said
> about half an hour after biologists tried to set the condors free in
> Sierra San Pedro Martir National Park. "They're afraid of the door."
>
> The condors, hatched and raised at the Los Angeles Zoo, weren't in any
> rush to leave. By nightfall, the birds were still huddled at the far
> side of their cage, so biologists lowered the door to keep coyotes and
> other predators away.
>
> The condor release is a historic collaboration between the United
> States and Mexico, and is designed to re-establish the birds in a
> remote, pine-covered region where experts hope the condors will be
> isolated from most signs of civilization.
>
> Two more condors are scheduled to be freed within the next few days.
>
> The birds' hesitation wasn't a surprise, and biologists expected the
> youngsters to venture into the open soon, said Wallace, head of the
> California Condor Recovery Team and a wildlife biologist with the San
> Diego Zoological Society.
>
> The return of the California condor to Baja marks a milestone in a
> 20-year struggle to save the bird from extinction.
>
> In 1982, only 23 California condors remained. Today, there are more
> than 200, with almost 80 of them in the wild.
>
> The San Diego Wild Animal Park is home to 35.
>
> The condor's slow but steady recovery is heavily invested in Baja
> California, where biologists hope to evaluate their techniques for
> captive breeding and establish a population at the southern point of
> the bird's historic range.
>
> "This bird is the icon, both to me and to much of society, of
> endangered species conservation, of wilderness," said Bruce Palmer,
> coordinator of the California condor recovery effort in the United
> States and a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
>
> With its wizened bald head, huge body and massive wings, which span
> nearly 10 feet, the condor looks like something out of Jurassic Park.
>
> Yet, the species is no older than the scrub jays in a back yard, said
> Wallace.
>
> "They just look like dinosaurs," Wallace said of the creatures. "They
> just look very, very old."
>
> The condor, a vulture, is in the same family as turkey and black
> vultures. They are highly social, intelligent and fastidious creatures
> that bathe in rock pools after eating, and preen in the sun. The
> consummate fliers can climb 15,000 feet and soar 150 miles or more in a
> day.
>
> Condors, which typically live to 40 years old in the wild, reproduce
> slowly. They do not reach sexual maturity until at least 5, and females
> lay one egg every two years.
>
> During the Pleistocene Era, which ended 10,000 years ago, condors lived
> across much of North America. By the early 19th century, they ranged
> along the Pacific Coast, from British Columbia to Baja California. In
> 1900, condors were almost entirely limited to Southern California. In
> 1967, only about 60 were believed left and the federal government
> listed the bird as endangered.
>
> Since 1992, wildlife biologists have reintroduced condors fitted with
> radio transmitters to the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County,
> the Ventana Wilderness Sanctuary near Big Sur, and near the Grand
> Canyon in Arizona. Biologists track the birds using radio telemetry.
>
> Fifty condors, or about 30 percent of those released since 1992, have
> died. An adult condor recently died in Ventura County, and last week,
> biologists discovered that a young condor hatched in the wild had died.
>
> Some of the birds died after they hit power lines. Others died from
> lead poisoning after ingesting bullet fragments or buckshot in dead
> animals left by hunters. Still others were shot, or were killed by
> eagles or coyotes. Many of the deaths reflect the condors' loss of
> pristine habitat over the past 200 years.
>
> Wildlife biologists began planning for the bird's reintroduction to
> Baja California more than a decade ago.
>
> Rising 10,000 feet above the Pacific and the Gulf of California, the
> Sierra San Pedro Martir is quintessential condor country. The
> mountains, rising sharply from the ocean, offer strong updrafts for
> flying. Sheer rock faces, huge rock outcroppings, open meadows and
> forested hillsides offer numerous places to roost and feed.
>
> Above all, the region is remote, with few people and virtually no signs
> of them.
>
> Reintroducing condors to Baja is "good for Mexico, because it's showing
> that we do environmental work," said Horacio de la Cueva, a lead
> Mexican researcher on the project.
>
> The initial release will test the effectiveness of having researchers
> raise captive chicks by using hand-held puppets made from cloth,
> leather and plastic as surrogate parents. The Los Angeles Zoo used the
> technique to raise the five condors  three females and two males
> ranging from 11/2 to 21/2 years old.
>
> Raising birds using puppets began in 1983, after researchers discovered
> that removing eggs from wild pairs sometimes prompted them to lay
> replacements. There were soon more chicks than adults, so biologists
> began using the puppets.
>
> Wildlife biologists hope to build two self-sustaining populations of
> 150 birds each in North America  one extending from Baja California to
> southern Oregon, and a second in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Another
> 150 birds would remain in captivity.
>
> Reaching that point could take 10 to 20 years, and only then would
> wildlife biologists recommend that the federal government remove the
> condor from its endangered list and declare it threatened, Palmer said.
>
> "We are a ways away ... but we can get there," he said. "I think this
> is really doable."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Bruce Lieberman: (619 )293-2836; [log in to unmask]
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>
>
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>>
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