Archive for the 'California Condors' Category

Behind-the-Scenes with Birds

Posted at 11:44 am December 8, 2010 by Kimberly Carroll

Eurasian eagle owl Einstein poses with a trainer.

The Inside Look: Festival of Flight bird tours were a wild and wonderful way to see the San Diego Zoo in action last month. I am an educator who leads behind-the-scenes adventures at the Zoo. Our bird tour experiences were so unique this year that I was as excited as the guests to experience our special animal interactions! The Zoo’s bird collection is incredible and includes almost 400 species and subspecies, which comes to about 3,500 individual birds. During our special tours, we got to spend some time with our feathered friends and meet the keepers who keep them happy, healthy, and entertained.

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Experiencing the Wonder of Nature

Posted at 10:35 am October 22, 2010 by Oliver Ryder

Vermillion Cliffs site

October is Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Our Institute for Conservation Research staff are sharing their interactions and connections with nature at a young age and how these connections put them on their career paths. Read a previous post, A New Nature.

As a young person, it was a sense of wonder—a mixture of curiosity, interest, and desire for discovery—that kindled my interest in becoming a scientist. Years later, working as a conservation scientist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research stimulates this sense of wonder. Now, however, the larger and more important context is the preservation of the astounding diversity of forms of life—the numerous species and their populations. This is the driving force for efforts my colleagues and I undertake. At a time when species are being lost at an unprecedented rate, this can be a challenging outlook. Yet, a single moment or moments of experience can make it all worthwhile, justifying tedium, overcoming frustration, and ablating despair.

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10 Reasons for Hope

Posted at 4:16 pm May 20, 2010 by Suzanne Hall

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that the current extinction rate for species on our planet is more than 1,000 times the rate it would be naturally, thanks to human factors. Climate change is implicated in reductions to water availability in ecosystems and ice in the Arctic. These days you only have to turn on the television to have a front row seat for the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Everywhere you look, the news about the state of nature seems gloomy. (more…)

Measuring Wind beneath Condor Wings

Posted at 7:51 am November 24, 2009 by James Sheppard

A condor's eye view? Flying over condor habitat in Baja California, Mexico.

A condor's eye view? Flying over condor habitat in Baja California, Mexico.

Last month, we conducted an expedition to install a series of meteorological stations on the remote and inaccessible eastern escarpment of the Sierra Mountains of Baja California, Mexico. This rugged region of spectacular natural beauty is the release site for the San Diego Zoo’s California condor reintroduction program. This site was chosen because of its status as a pristine, protected area of the condor’s former range. Condors existed in the mountains of Baja until they disappeared in the 1940s, only to reappear in 2002 when the San Diego Zoo released captive-bred birds back into their former habitat.

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Releasing Condors: Not So Easy

Posted at 10:34 am September 30, 2009 by Mike Wallace

California condor #430 in the chaparrel.

California condor #430 in the chaparrel.

On Friday, September 18, we attempted to release three more California condors to the wild at our condor reintroduction site in Baja California, Mexico. We had conditioned the three new birds, numbers 430, 436, and 446, in the large aviary with our adult mentor, Xewe, since they arrived at the site from the Wild Animal Park on March 19. The threesome was transferred a few weeks ago to the release pen situated atop a 2,000-foot ridge, where they could become accustomed to the sights and sounds of the area and see previously released condors use the food and water available to them once they were free. New tags and transmitters were attached on the night of September 13 by the field crew and they were ready to go. However…

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Baja Condor Chick Update

Posted at 12:40 pm July 24, 2009 by Mike Wallace

California condor chick in Baja California, Mexico

California condor chick in Baja California, Mexico

With enough rope to make the 550-foot (170-meter) rappel to the cliff base, Juan Vargas and I moved steadily downward to this year’s only condor nest in the Baja California, Mexico, California condor release program (see post, Condors: Quest for the Egg). Situated in a 6-foot (1.8-meter)-deep cave punched into a massive granite wall, it was the same cavity this pair attempted to nest in last year but failed in the egg stage of incubation. This season they incubated an egg successfully, and the cave now housed a startled, month-and-a-half-old chick that began hissing and lunging at us as we landed at the cave opening.

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Pandas and Polars: Animal SOS

Posted at 4:03 pm July 17, 2009 by Marla Barr

A few months ago we started working on program for our dedicated polar bear and giant panda fans to allow them to get in the driver’s seat and take a stance in the effort to save these two majestic bears. Today we are excited to announce that the program – which we are calling Animal SOS – is finally ready for all of you to see. www.sandiegozoo.org/animalsos

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Condors: Quest for the Egg

Posted at 10:00 am April 30, 2009 by James Sheppard

Female condor #284 enters her nest.

Female condor #284 enters her nest.

April has been a very busy and exciting month for the San Diego Zoo’s California condor project. Condor field managers and researchers have been using VHF and GPS telemetry to closely monitor the movement behaviors of the birds that have been reintroduced to Baja California, Mexico. Early spring is the condor breeding season, and we hope to observe breeding and nesting behaviors that will lead to successfully fledged chicks this year.

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Cold Condors

Posted at 5:05 pm December 19, 2008 by Suzanne Hall

It’s the end of the year and time for a new cohort of California condors to begin the mentoring process at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. Four youngsters, fresh out of their nest boxes, have been selected to prepare for eventual release to the wilds of Baja California, Mexico. They are currently sharing a small enclosure with a mentor bird while the group adjusts to communal living, and shortly the group will be given access to a large flight pen where they will live for the next eight months. During this time, researchers from the Zoo’s Applied Animal Ecology Division will be documenting their behavior as a continuation of a study we began a few years back. The goal of our research is to determine any social or temperamental factors that might help us to predict which individual birds are going to be successful when released to their native habitat.

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California Condors to Find New Home in Santa Barbara

Posted at 1:23 pm July 31, 2008 by Yadira Galindo

The Santa Barbara Zoo will become only the second United States zoo where the public can view the critically endangered California condor on exhibit. Santa Barbara will join the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park which has been exhibiting the California condor since the year 2000.