Update: 2:50 p.m. (AP) The California condor released back into the wild today was greeted by other members of the flock following its release into the Big Sur wilderness around 10 a.m., Ventana Wildlife Society Senior Biologist Joe Burnett. The release was broadcast live.
“She did great,” he said. “She did about as perfect as you can ask for.” Burnett said the bird had been treated at the Los Angeles Zoo for a wing injury and was testing it in the wild for the first time. She was released less than a mile from her parents and the nest where she was born. Ventana was planning to release three additional condors, but decided against it because of inclement weather, Burnett said. Those birds will be released over the coming weeks. Update: 10:10 a.m. Condor 646 was released and met at the door by a previously released condor — condor 550. The newly-released condor made a short flight before walking up the hill with condor 550 to explore the feeding area and meet other condors. A concern of the biologist is that the released condors are excepted into the group, but it appeared that condor 646 was brought into the fold. Another feeding cam shows live video of the many wild and rehabilitated condors that gather in the feeding area regularly.
Warning: Some of the feeding videos can be fairly graphic.
Update: 9:57 a.m. The Ventana Wildlife Society has said that only one condor — condor 646 — will be released into the wild today because of changes in the weather forecast. Rain in the Big Sur area on Wednesday and Thursday is delaying the release of the other condors previously scheduled to be released today.
Four California condors are being released at 10 a.m. PT today in Big Sur by the Ventana Wildlife Society. You can watch the release live via a streaming webcam sponsored by the Oakland Zoo.
The Oakland Zoo‘s live-streaming camera is located in the hills outside Big Sur. The zoo also has a “Condor Cam” in the recovery center at the zoo. The center is designed for treatment of sick or injured California condors. Upon the birds’ recovery, they will be returned to their natural habitat. According to the Oakland Zoo’s website, prior to the Oakland Zoo partnership with the California Condor Recovery Program, the nearest Veterinary hospital for condor care was in the Los Angeles Zoo.
The Ventana Wildlife Society and Oakland Zoo run a number of condor cameras that allow people to see the birds when they are feeding, rehabilitating and flying free. Because the majority of the condor rehabilitation work in the wild takes place in very remote areas, the Condor Cam in Big Sur is both a chance for the public to see the birds and a tool for biologists. The camera, which was installed last year, is on a grassy ridge in a very remote canyon at approximately 2800 feet elevation and about two miles from the ocean, according to Ventana.
California condors were on the brink of extinction 30 years ago, but have made a gradual recovery. However, lead bullets, which make their way into the condor food system after being used on animals that condors eat, have been a continuing problem. This past fall, Governor Brown passed a law banning lead bullets across the state.