Nine adult California condors are feared dead approximately a month after wildfire ripped through the Big Sur Condor Sanctuary in central California. The birds have not been spotted since the fire, and after a few weeks, condor experts said their hope faded. Also, two wild-hatched nestlings died in the fire, and a third, despite surviving the fire, recently showed signs that things were not going well.
The bird called “Iniko,” which was still in its nest in a redwood tree, did not ask its mother for food when field biologists watched. This is of concern, according to the Ventana Wildlife Society, as begging the chick induces condor parents to feed their chicks. In addition, “Iniko” was low in energy. His mother, known as the “Redwood Queen”, was around the nest tree.
The biologists considered trying to save “Iniko”, but the redwood was badly burned in the fire. “Climbing experts strongly warn against climbing this tree in its impaired condition,” reported VNS. “As difficult as that is, we cannot attempt a rescue and endanger people’s lives. We are comforted that ‘Redwood Queen’ is still trying to take care of ‘Iniko’ and that ‘Iniko’ still has a chance of survival. “
Two more chicks that hatched this year survived the fire. It was suspected that one was fine because his mother repeatedly visited the nest based on information from her GPS transmitter. The other chick had to be rescued before the fire reached its nest in Pinnacles National Park. The bird is in the care of the LA Zoo until it is old enough to be released.
Fire is an uncommon cause of condor deaths. Federal biologists have been tracking condor mortality for almost 30 years. By 2019, the cause of death for 185 birds is known; seven of them died from fire.
The wild condor population in central California was 101 birds in 2019, making the potential loss of nine adults significant. Significantly, the fire destroyed the Ventana Wildlife Society’s 80-acre Big Sur Condor Sanctuary near the central California coast.
Captive condors have been released from the sanctuary into the wild since 1997. At the time of the fire, there were no condors or people in the facility. The society is planning to rebuild the sanctuary and is seeking donations of $ 500,000.
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