Update December 18, 2014: The parents of the a wild condor chick hatched in Zion National Park have stopped bringing food to the nest. The young chick would have been getting ready for its first flight about now but biologists have stopped seeing any activity. Although a carcass has not been found, scientists have concluded that the chick is dead.
“The loss of Utah’s first chick is a hard reminder that critters have a tough go of it in the wild. It’s just a shame that we weren’t able to recover a carcass to examine what might have provided clues as to the cause of death,” said Chris Parish, condor program director for The Peregrine Fund.
Lead poisoning has been a major cause of death to the birds since they’ve been reintroduced to Arizona and Utah. (Read related story on MyGrandCanyonPark.com) and it is possible that the chick may have suffered such poisoning from food brought to the nest. It is also possible that the parent condors did not give proper care to the chick. At this time, biologists can only speculate.
Update June 25, 2014: It’s confirmed. Zion National Park announced that biologists have been watching a rock cavity located 1,000 feet above a remote canyon floor in Zion National Park. On June 25, a condor chick made its first appearance on the edge of the nest. This chick is the offspring of first-time nesting parents. The occasion is particularly momentous because the results of first-time nesters often fail.
June 4, 2014: Utah may have it’s first naturally hatched condor chick. Biologists have not yet seen the chick but they have been observing the adult birds courting, and now feeding patterns indicate parenthood.
Condors were introduced to Northern Arizona in the Vermillion Cliffs in 1996. The birds have been establishing nearby Utah as their habitat of choice, and are now often seen in Zion National Park. Zion wildlife biologists have been watching the condors for the last four years but this is the first sign of an egg hatching in the wild.
According to the Peregrind Fund, “The condor pair self-selected a nesting cavity in a remote canyon within Zion National Park and has been under observation by TPF biologists since the condors began exhibiting courtship behavior this past winter. The nest cave was found by following radio and GPS signals from transmitters mounted on each condor. Earlier this year, the birds displayed behavior indicating they were incubating an egg and now show signs that they are tending a chick. Basically, this means one adult stays in the nest cave caring for the egg or chick while the other forages widely. They trade these roles every 2-3 days.”
Since the possible nest is 1,000 feet about the floor of the canyon and does not have a line of sight, biologists have not gotten a look at it. They are however, encouraged that the parent condors have continued to visit this nest location, which is a sign that a chick is alive and well.
Read the complete news release from the Peregrine Fund. http://peregrinefund.org/news-release/297