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Biologists announce death of Utah's first condor chick

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Biologists announce death of Utah's first condor chick

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue | Posted - Dec. 18, 2014 at 5:55 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Biologists are dismayed that Utah's first wild-hatched condor chick apparently has not survived, having gone weeks without being able to spot the chick at its nest cave.

"Although two out of three 2014 condor chicks surviving to fledging remains encouraging, 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, which manages the wild Arizona-Utah flock.

Two California condor chicks left their nests and have taken flight in northern Arizona. Both of those birds appear to be doing well since fledging, bringing the total to 73 condors in the wild in Arizona and Utah.

Twenty-five chicks have been hatched in the wild since condors were first introduced in Arizona in 1996. The bird at Zion is believed to be the first in Utah since the program began.


Although two out of three 2014 condor chicks surviving to fledging remains encouraging, 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.

–Chris Parish, The Peregrine


Prior to reintroduction, the last wild condor was spotted south of the Grand Canyon in 1925.

In Utah, observations of the condor parents visiting the nest cave indicated the chick was doing well during the first six months leading up to the bird being able to take flight. But by late November, a month after the predicted flight date, biologists noted something was wrong.

The Utah chick quit coming out to the cave opening, and soon after, the parents decreased their visitation to the cave. After multiple trips to investigate, biologists concluded that the chick had not survived.

The largest land bird in North America, the California condor has a wing span that can top 9 feet and only produce one egg every other year.

The bird was added to the Endangered Species List in 1967. Its top threat is lead poisoning.

A cooperative program that includes federal, state and private partners, the recovery effort features the work of The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, forest service districts and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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