Earth Day 2010/Big Sur Condor No 40
"Replacing human brinkmanship with ecological stewardship"
ECOARTPEDIA/Earth Day 2010 40th Anniversary/Special Edition PRESENTS:


    The California Condor Recovery Program began reintroducing birds to the wild in 1992. Two of the captive-bred California condors were released in Ventura County, California five years after the last wild birds had been captured. Improved release strategies were undertaken in Santa Barbara County, CA beginning in late 1993; in San Luis Obispo County, CA in early 1996; in northern Arizona beginning in late 1996, and in Monterrey County, CA beginning in 1997.

    Thanks to the remarkable resiliency of this magnificent species and the continued efforts from its recovery partners, there are now more than 160 condors flying free in California, Arizona and Mexico.

    Condors, the largest land birds in North America, have wingspans of up to 10 feet and weigh 18 to 30 pounds. They are highly intelligent and inquisitive, often engaging in play. Their range extended across much of North America during the Pleistocene Era, which ended about 10,000 years ago. By 1940, that range had been reduced to the coastal mountains of Southern California. In 1967 condors were added to the first Federal List of endangered species and in 1971 protected as endangered species by the California State Law. In 1987, the 27 condors remaining in the wild were brought into captivity and a captive-breeding program was developed.


    The last condors were seen in Oregon in 1904, near the town of Drain, in southwest Oregon. Condors held out a little longer in California. Only 27 california condors were left and the last wild condor was removed from the wild in 1987. In an attempt to save the species, biologists decided to place all the remaining condors into a captive breeding program. When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the California condor was one of the original animals included on the list.

    Condors have a long history in Oregon. Archeologists have unearthed nine thousand year old condor bones from Native American middens. The condor was a common design motif of the Wasco people, who lived along the Columbia River from The Dalles to Cascade Locks-the condor was considered a helper to the native peoples and a key character in many myths.

    The Oregon Zoo was the third zoo in the nation invited to join the California Condor Recovery Program. California condor captive breeding programs are operated at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, and The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. The recovery goal for the condor program is to establish a captive population of 150 birds and two separate wild populations of condors (150 each), one in California and the other in Arizona. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Condor Recovery Program coordinate and implement the recovery efforts and provide oversight of all program partners.

    Condor No.340 hatched thanks to the Oregon Zoo's condor recovery efforts at the Johnson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in a rural county on Metro-owned open space. The remoteness of the facility minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for captive-hatched birds to survive and breed in the wild.

    The Johnson Center is currently home to 38 condors and has produced 23 fertile eggs since it was established in 2004. Of the 23 eggs hatched in Oregon, 19 chicks have survived; two eggs were sent to other facilities for hatching.

    In 2001, the Oregon Zoo became the third zoo in the nation to join the California Condor Recovery Program. California condor captive-breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey. The Oregon Zoo was the recipient of the Wildlife Society's Conservation Award for creating the nation's fourth California condor breeding facility in April 2005.

    CONDOR No.340 with GPS TAG

    How to read the tags

    All California Condors wear tags-usually one on each wing visible on the upper surface and underside of the wing. Tags are black, with one or two white digits, plus other identifiers below the digits (dots or bars.

    A single dot=100, therefore if you see the digit 2 and a single dot below, you are looking at bird 102. Two dots represents a two hundred series, three dots is three hundred; a long bar denotes a 400 series bird.

    Oregon Zoo/Press Releases about Condor No.340

    Kun-wak-shun is our No.1 super star! When his parents Tama and Mandan produced his egg on March 10, 2004, it was the first condor egg laid in Oregon ever recorded. His egg was nicknamed "the Golden Egg". In the Kiksht language this means "Thunder and Lightening" and is a reference to the sacred Thunderbird of the Columbia River. Kun-wak-shun emerged from his shell May 9, 2004 with his foster parents,condors 137 and 147, anxiously watching and assisting with the removal of eggshell fragments as needed."

    Assistant condor curator Joe Burnett commented "Hatching is a life and death struggle, but this is just the beginning for this chick. From here it will grow and learn from its foster parents over the next six months, and then, eventually, face its ultimate challengeórelease into the wild."

    After intense "boot camp" training and pre-release socialization with adult mentor birds, 15-month-old Kun-wak-shun was ready to be released at Ventana Wilderness Society's condor release pen in Pinnacles National Monument (central California).

    Condor No.340 at Ventana Wilderness Society's pen in Pinnacles National Monument

    Upon arrival at the Pinnacles flight pen, No.340 was by far the most active and aggressive juvenile. Perhaps he was aware of his distinction in being the first chick produced by the Oregon Zoo, where he hatched on 5/9/04. After a brief lull in activity immediately following his release, Condor No.340 started to expand his range and quickly ascended the dominance hierarchy.

    On September 17, 2005 he took his first flight into Pacific skies. He was fitted with a GPS satellite tracking tag prior to release so that biologists could map his daily movements and keep a watchful eye on his progress. So far he holds the record for the farthest flight of any released bird in California and he continues to boldly represent Oregon-reared condors free-flying in the wild.


    Updates on Condors-2004 and 2005

    These updates are from 2004 and 2005, the first two years after Pinnacles National Monument became a release site for the Condor Recovery Program.

    September 17, 2005

    Three condors were released during a public release event on Saturday, September 17th at Pinnacles National Monument. Over three hundred people witnessed the first flights of condors 330, 332, and 340.

    The birds left the double-door trap shortly after 10:00, and spent a few minutes on the ground before making short flights around the ridgetop near the flight pen that had been their home for the last few months. They were joined by 313, one of the condors who was released last year, soon after they left the flight pen.

    During the next few weeks, the condors will be monitored closely to ensure that they stay out of the reach of predators such as coyotes and mountain lions. The most critical time will be when they choose their roosting spots in the evening. Biologists will be watching to make sure that the condors roost in trees. During the first release at Pinnacles in 2003, one of the birds had to be recaptured because it was roosting on the ground.
    September 19, 2005

    This first week is a crucial time for the newly released condors because their flight skills are weak. They have been making practice flights around the ridge, but they sometimes make a flight and then can't get back to where they started from.

    On Saturday night, 330 and 340 did not leave the immediate area of the facility, and roosted on a snag just outside the double-door trap.

    During the next couple of weeks, the newly released birds will develop the muscle structure and flight skills that they need to get into trees and other safe roosting spots at night. Once they are able to do this, biologists will be able to take a break from monitoring them so closely.

    September 23, 2005

    Condor 335 was released from the flight pen this morning. He is one of the two condors in the third group who wears a GPS transciever, so biologists will be able to track his range each day when the data from the transceiver is downloaded.

    The other three condors of the third group that were released at the public event are improving their flight skills. Last night, they roosted with the other six free-flying birds in a pine tree. All of the free-flying condors have been feeding together. This indicates that the newly released birds have shown good competitive abilities while feeding, which is a positive step towards integration into the group.

    October 14, 2005
    All of the newly released condors are continuing to do well. They have integrated into the social structure of the birds that were released in October 2004. They are choosing safe roosting locations each night, and biologists do not have to monitor them as carefully as they did just after their release. Condor 340 is making excellent progress with his flight skills. He accompanied an older condor to Coalinga, about 60 miles southeast of Pinnacles. 340 is one of the birds who wears a GPS transceiver, and biologists are able to download detailed information about his flight range.

    Most recently Condor No.340 took a flight to southern California, within 50 miles of the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge condor release site. His continued exploratory flights make him a bird valued within the flock for his ability to lead others to new areas.

    2010 NEWS UPDATE:


    March 8, 2010

    Condors 317 and 318 have paired up this year and chose a nest site within the Monument. This is only the second nest in the program's six year history and is the first verified nest in the Pinnacles National Monument in over 100 years. Condors persisted in the area in sufficient numbers to suggest nesting into the 1930's, but there are no good records indicating exactly where the nests of the early 20th century were.

    Field biologists have been tracking the new pair for many weeks, and verified that an egg had been laid in mid-February, but we waited until now to announce the finding to ensure the new pair were exhibiting normal incubating patterns. So far both adult birds have taken to the new life stage as one would expect from an adult condor.
    Condor eggs take around 57 days to hatch, so if all goes well, the park may have a nestling condor in early April.

    Additional information and related LINKS:

    ECOART  CALENDARHain Wilderness National Park 2013/ECOSNEWS 2013 UPDATEEarth Day (1970-2010) 40th Anniversary ISSUE 2010 Anticipation
    ECOARTPEDIA 2010 Earth Day PosterEARTH  DAY 1970-2010 EXHIBITION/PUBLIC ART/G2PAEarth Day 2010 40th Anniversary/"Big Sur Condor"-G2PA Image
    Earth Day 2010 and California Condors Celebration - April 2010 NEWS UPDATE
    SPRING 2010 Issue/Earth Day and California CondorsAUTUMN 2008 Issue: "Unwinding" Video-art HaikuVideo-Art Haiku
    WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY/Earth from Above/"HOME" FilmEcological Art TVEarth Day 2013 "PORTRAIT EARTH" ECOARTPEDIA Special Edition
    ECOARTNET/ BEST OF THE WEB NOMINEE  Museums and the Web Awards 2006ECOARTPEDIA Digital Ecological Art Library