SPRINGDALE, Washington County — A California condor nestling that hatched at Zion National Park earlier this year has taken flight.
Park officials and state wildlife biologists said Friday that the bird, named "Condor #1,111," left its nest cave near Angels Landing and took to the sky for the first time on Aug. 28 — a little earlier than originally anticipated. In doing so, it became just the second wild-hatched nestling to fledge in the park's history, joining its sibling "1K," which did so in 2019.
"We are incredibly excited to see a second nestling fledge at Zion National Park," Russ Norvell, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources avian conservation program coordinator, said in a statement. "The recovery of this endangered species requires a lot of strong partnerships and hard work by so many, and we are thrilled to see some of those efforts paying off. We look forward to the continuing recovery of these unique birds."
Biologists believe the young condor hatched in mid-April and originally anticipated it would fledge in October. They added that condors usually fledge at 6 months in age and 1,111 took flight about 1½ months earlier than that.
"Condor #1,111 will continue to be dependent on its parents for the next 12-14 months," park officials wrote. "Because the adults spend so much time caring for their young, wild condor pairs normally produce one egg every other year."
What makes 1,111 special isn't just that it's the second wild California condor to fledge at Zion, it is one of two nestlings in Utah this year. The two hatchings marked the first time multiple nestlings had been discovered in Utah during the same breeding season. The second nestling, which hatched just east of Zion, is believed to be about a month younger than 1,111. That nestling has yet to fledge.
According to biologists, condors have soared over North American skies for 40,000 years, scavenging on mammoths and giant sloths. But Zion National Park officials say 1,111 and its older sibling, 1K, are a celebration of biologists, government agencies, non-government organizations and residents coming together to help save the California condor species that was on the brink of extinction 40 years ago.
There were just 22 known California condors left on the planet in 1982. There are now a little more than 300 condors in the wild between Utah, Arizona, California and Mexico, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The new Zion fledgling's parents, "409" and "523," were born at the San Diego Zoo and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, respectively, before they were released into the Arizona wild. They both eventually moved north to Zion National Park together, where they've produced 1K and 1,111.
"We are elated to see the continued success of this condor pair in Zion National Park," Tim Hauck, the condor program manager for The Peregrine Fund, said in a statement. "It is certainly an occasion for celebration in the recovery effort, yet again demonstrating the resiliency of the California condor. What a spectacular sight to see, wild-hatched condors soaring amongst the towering rock formations of Zion National Park."