SPRINGDALE, Washington County — They grow up so fast.
Zion National Park officials on Friday provided an update on 1K, the 1,000th California condor chick of a species recovery program, after receiving the results of recent blood analysis that was done on the bird. Officials said that they now know that 1K is a male, and he's already making preparations for life on his own.
“If you think about 1K's lifespan in terms of human years, he's about the age of an adult just preparing to leave college or home for good. Still sighted here in the park 2-3 times per week, 1K continues to become more independent from his mother (9) and father (J3),” park officials wrote in a Facebook post.
Perhaps you’ve seen “1K” flying around if you’ve been to Zion National Park this year. In July 2019, the National Park Service confirmed the 1,000th California condor chick from the start of the Condor Recovery Program, which began reintroducing the species into the wild in 1992. The celebrated bird left its nest for the first time last fall.
But there still wasn't much researchers knew about 1K until this year. Biologists captured the condor in May to conduct medical tests, such as measuring weight, drawing blood and administering vaccinations. A transmitter was also placed on its wing with a vinyl “1K” tag to mark its name, according to the nonprofit Peregrine Fund.
At that point, the bird was listed at 17.3 pounds and was completely healthy. When biologists received the bloodwork back this month, they learned 1K's gender for the first time.
Even though 1K will become more independent, it’ll still be another four or five years until he’s reached maturity, officials added.
Adult California condors have a body length ranging from 46 to 53 inches. They also have a wingspan of nearly 8 feet, 10 inches, according to the San Diego Zoo. That’s a wider wingspan than Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert by a foot, for comparison's sake.
Park officials also said 1K’s parents will begin to “slowly usher him away as they can gain back their privacy” in the coming months.
However, they may not be empty nesters for long. California condors lay eggs one at a time, and it’s possible the parents will attempt to reproduce again in the coming months. This may lead to another egg by next spring, according to park officials.
That’s great news for a species once on the brink of extinction. There were 22 California condors left on the planet in 1982 before the Condor Recovery Program began. Adding in 1K, the Peregrine Fund says there are now over 500 California condors in existence with more than half of those in the wild.