California condor pairs<br>laying eggs at Grand Canyon

Wildlife biologists believe two pairs of California condors have laid eggs in the South Rim area of the Grand Canyon. It’s also possible that a third pair have laid an egg on the North Rim.

According to Sophie Osborn of the Peregrine Fund, it appears two eggs were laid in the South Rim area. Condors 119 and 122 have been using last year’s Battleship nest cave in the Horn Creek drainage while condors 123 and 127 have been using a nest cave in the Salt Creek drainage west of Dana Butte, where an egg was laid last year.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife, one of the partners in the California condor reintroduction program, reported it takes 57 days for condor eggs to incubate with the hope there will soon be wild chicks in Arizona. The first wild egg of the year was laid in California by a pair of birds located in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary.

Mallory Smith, Grand Canyon National Park management assistant, said it was possible that a third breeding pair appeared to have nested in the upper Tapeats area on the North Rim.

"We have a few administrative things in place in terms of management stuff," said Smith, giving the rerouting of helicopter flights as an example.

Elaine Leslie, wildlife biologist for the park, could not be reached.

On the Peregrine Fund’s Web site, Osborn also reported that four condors, referred to as the "quad," laid an egg in their cave on the southwest corner of Vermilion Cliffs.

"The males spent several days and nights trading off what appeared to be incubation duty inside the nest cave," Osborn reported. "After the first week of such behavior, however, all four members of the quad abandoned the cave. It seems likely that if indeed there was an egg, that four birds were too many to care for the egg successfully. The quad has since begun searching out new nest caves."

The Condor Nestwatch program has been organized again for this year. For those who may be interested and would like more information, call 638-7648.

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