“It’s the only condor in existence without markers,” he said.
Now that the chick is venturing from the nesting site and roosting with other birds, biologists with the park and the Peregrine Fund, one of several partners in the reintroduction effort, anticipate that they’ll be able to trap it within the next month or so to fit it with markers, take blood to determine its sex and innoculate it for West Nile virus.
“It’s still anchored to the nest area,” Olson said. “It comes to the Rim area with the other birds, but it will only go so far. At some point soon, that connection (to the nest area) will break.”
As the youngest condor in the flock, it’s taken some bullying from older birds but its parents remain protective. Because they’re still willing to feed the chick, Olson said it’s likely that they won’t produce another egg this year.
“The chick is still 100 percent dependent on its parents for food,” he said. “If they were trying to breed, chances are they would have forced the chick to be more independent,” he said. “But it could continue to be fed by its parents into as late as mid-summer.”
As it soars with other condors, however, sooner or later it will have the opportunity to feed for itself for the first time.
“It’s only a matter of time until it finds a carcass,” Olson said.
Meanwhile, two condor pairs are still showing nesting behavior. Numbers 119 and 122 have established a nest at Battleship Cave, and numbers 114 and 149 have made a nest cave in the Vermillion Cliffs.
Another pair, numbers 133 and 158, have been traveling together, apparently looking for a nesting area in the Kaibab Forest. Olson said that it’s getting late in the season for the pair to produce an egg.
“It’s unlikely that they’ll lay an egg, but they’re acting like a pair,” he said. “It’s encouraging and the Peregrine Fund is optimistic for next season.”
Olson is organizing volunteers to watch the Battleship nest. Contact him if you’re interested by calling 638-7648 or e-mailing him at email@example.com.
The four most recently-released birds are staying close to the release site, but the birds released late last year are starting to explore as far as Navajo Bridge. According to Olson, six condors are still being held at the release site with the Peregrine Fund planning to release them in the fall. There are nearly 50 condors in Arizona. The total world population of condors, including captive-bred birds, is more than 200.