SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4) – Biologists are celebrating the successful landing of a California Condor nestling in Zion National Park.
The young bird left its nest cave in Angels Landing and successfully landed, making this the second wild-hatched fledgling to successfully fledge in Zion National Park, according to officials.
Zion Park Biologists have named this condor “#1111.” Its sibling, “#1000,” was the first wild-hatched nestling to fledge in Zion National Park back in 2019.
Condor #1111 is only four-and-a-half months old, so park rangers and volunteers are keeping a close eye as the young bird is still dependent on its parents at this time.
Fledging is described as a process where young birds acquire the necessary feathers for flight, then officially journey outside of their nest, according to Merriam-Webster. Experts say most condors take their first flight around six months old and will continue depending on their parents for the next 12-14 months.
Most condors spend much time caring for their little one, so each condor couple will produce around one egg every other year, experts say. Biologists believe the condor egg was laid sometime in February and hatched in mid-April.
Condor #1111’s mother, #409, was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2006 and its father, #523, was born at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho in 2009. The parents have been together for four years and were released at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument site in Arizona.
“We are elated to see the continued success of this condor pair in Zion National Park,” says Tim Hauck, Condor Program Manager for The Peregrine Fund. “It is certainly an occasion for celebration in the recovery effort, yet again demonstrating the resiliency of the California condor. What a spectacular site, to see wild-hatched condors soaring amongst the towering rock formations of Zion National Park.”
Back in 1982, California Condors were on the brink of extinction, with only 22 left in the world at the time. Due to the steep decline, the remaining condors were captured and held in captivity to ensure the species’ survival.
The successful captive breeding program has now reestablished condor numbers tremendously, with over 500 in existence today, experts say.
The successful numbers have allowed condors to be released back into the wild since 1992.
Today, over half of those 500 condors are flying free in the wild, with 103 condors currently soaring around the skies of Utah and Arizona.
“We are incredibly excited to see a second nestling fledge at Zion National Park,” says Russ Norvell, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Avian Conservation Program Coordinator. “The recovery of this endangered species requires a lot of strong partnerships and hard work by so many, and we are thrilled to see some of those efforts paying off. We look forward to the continuing recovery of these unique birds.”
Learn more about the California Condor recovery program here.