The first California condor egg of 2023 recently arrived at the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation. Keepers hope to see more over the coming weeks.
The egg arrived on 29 January to condors No. 492 and 432. The pair have hatched and raised two previous chicks over their three years together. They are taking turns incubating their newest egg, and if all goes well, it should hatch in March.
Kelli Walker, the Zoo’s senior condor keeper, noted that fourteen condor pairs are currently living at the conservation center, and every pair has raised at least one chick before. That’s good news for the recovery effort.
“Like any parents, they benefit from a little practice, so it’s great that all of the pairs have experience hatching and raising chicks,” she said. “We’re monitoring the nest areas and will be checking the eggs to make sure they’re developing correctly.”
The California condor was one of the original animals included in the 1973 Endangered Species Act and is classified as critically endangered. In 1982, only 22 individuals remained in the wild, and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction. Thanks to recovery programs like the Oregon Zoo’s, the world’s California condor population now totals around 500 birds, most of which are flying free.
The remoteness of the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County, Ore., on Metro-owned open land, minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for captive-hatched birds to survive and breed in the wild.
Since 2003, more than 108 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center, and more than 73 Oregon Zoo-reared birds have gone out to field pens for release. Several eggs laid by Oregon Zoo condors have been placed in wild nests to hatch.
“We’re looking forward to another successful season,” said Walker. “There are only about 500 California condors in the world, so every egg is important.”
Photo Credit: © Oregon Zoo
Edited by Sarah Gilsoul, a writer and communications program assistant at AZA.
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