Archive by Author | Vickie Bakker

Don’t be blue! 100-year milestone at Pinnacles National Park

Ventana Wildlife Society just posted two photos on Facebook of the first wild-raised condor chick to enter the flock in over 100 years at Pinnacles National Park! This seemed like great news to send us into the weekend.

We were struck by the gorgeous blue neck of father Condor 340 in the photo. blueneck

This image nicely complements our post on the colors of condors.

Condor News (9/6/2014)

International Vulture Awareness Day is today! All across the globe, zoos and conservation organizations are holding special activities to honor these charismatic and often threatened scavengers. For more information:

International Vulture Awareness Day - Saturday 6th September 2014






Slide shows. Our amazing moderator wreness has put together slide shows of condors and other species from various angles and in different lighting to aid with identification. She even highlighted body parts — condor feet anyone? enter image description here

Her nice contribution was showcased by the DailyZoo here:


New study. Led by 2 scientists on the Condor Watch science team, a new study investigates and links the illegal shootings of 3 condors: 286 (Black86-2dots), 375 (Black75-3dots and Blue75), 401 (Black01underline and White1). Read it here:


In Memorium

Female 444. We were all rooting for 444, a female condor nicknamed “Ventana”. The oldest wild-reared condor in the central California flock, Ventana was badly lead poisoned last month. LA Zookeeper Mike Clark posted this report on his team’s efforts to save her life:

Photo: Latest case of lead poisoning female condor 444. A wild fledged bird from Big Sur clinging to life currently. Just finished her second blood transfusion. At an impossible weight of 10.3 pounds she is a fighter. Unfortunately she has lost most of her appetite and has to have a small amount of food placed in her mouth bit by bit. All hands are on deck for this girl and we won't give up until she does. Wish us luck. Chandra David Debbie Ciani Melissa Clark Jenny Schmidt  Deanna Rocca

444 in treatment at the LA Zoo. Photo Michael Clark

“Latest case of lead poisoning female condor 444. A wild fledged bird from Big Sur clinging to life currently. Just finished her second blood transfusion. At an impossible weight of 10.3 pounds she is a fighter. Unfortunately she has lost most of her appetite and has to have a small amount of food placed in her mouth bit by bit. All hands are on deck for this girl and we won’t give up until she does. Wish us luck.”

Despite their hard work on her behalf, she died on August 26th. At her passing, Ventana Wildlife Society noted “Ventana…was invaluable to the condor recovery effort in that she did not grow up in captivity and was raised in the wild by condor foster parents with minimal human intervention. RIP Ventana.”

Male 125.  Earlier in the summer, on July 18, 2014, the southern California flock lost male 125, who died of suspected bobcat predation. At 19 years old, he was a seasoned and successful breeder with a chick in the nest, making his loss particularly difficult. Fortunately, his partner, female 111 has been able to continue to rear their 2014 chick.

Koford's Ridge male #125. Photo by Joseph Brandt 3/13/2014.

Koford’s Ridge male #125. Photo by Joseph Brandt 3/13/2014.

Condor #125 peeking into his nest cavity. Photo by Joseph Brandt 2014.

Here is a nice writeup on his contributions to condor recovery:

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a webcam trained on his nest and has posted numerous videos of his charming chick, prompting one condor biologist to assert #condorsarecuterthankittens. See whether you agree here:,,,

USFWS also compiled a video collage of 125’s parenting moments here: and a fabulous set of photos spotlighting 125 here :


Lead testing. US Fish and Wildlife Service distributed this excellent short video that describes blood lead testing, lead poisoning, and chelation treatment of wild California condors. Look for Condor Watch feeding site photos at 1:51!



Summer travels. The US Fish and Wildlife Service shared the GPS tracks of condor 567 over a 3-week period. Although this degree of wanderlust is somewhat unusual, the condor’s huge wingspan is custom-made to enable them to range widely in search of food. USFWS notes:

Check this out! Condor #567, a 4-year old wild-fledged male condor, took a trip on the wild side over a three week period in July – from just north of Los Angeles early in the month to 12 miles south of Livermore in northern California later in the month — sightseeing the Coast range soaring…..



Condor news (6/28/14)

Condor Watch photo highlights

When you look through Talk at all the beautiful, interesting, funny, and unusual photos, and the astute and humorous comments of our Condor Watchers, it’s almost impossible to select just a few highlights.  We could have picked 100.  In the interest of not overwhelming you all, here are just a few.

  • And here’s an excellent view of unusual tag A4, which looks confoundingly like 44, reported by miltonbosch. As wreness would say, Bravo, you win a fish!Generic Fish clip art - vector clip art online, royalty free ...

It’s always fun to see some of the other charismatic fauna that frequent the feeding stations.

Condor news and views from around the web:

  • Mike Clark, LA Zoo’s condor keeper, shared this delightful video of a condor pool party. Unfortunately, the of the main reasons wild condors end up in the zoo is treatment for lead poisoning:
  • This radio piece features an interview with the Yurok tribe about the proposal to release condors on the North Coast in California. “They haven’t really been seen in this area for 100 years,”says Tiana Williams, a biologist and Yurok tribal member, “but they figure heavily in our stories and feature heavily in our world renewal ceremonies.”
  • Several different video clips have been posted recently of action at feeding stations and elsewhere that we miss in our photo stills. Not for the squeamish, here a condor eats a very gloopy calf lung, courtesy of Hunting with Non-lead Bullets:   And while it doesn’t always work out this way, here’s a clip of a condor chasing an eagle from a carcass, also from Hunting with Non-lead Bullets:
  • Condors sometimes are lured into dangerous situations by road kill. Here a tourist filmed a condor causing a traffic jam on the highway in the Big Sur area. It’s Yellow8, aka 208, a female hatched in 1999:
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service posted a clip of a 60-day old chick dancing the hokey pokey in its nest cave:
  • Finally, we’ll leave off on some sad notes, the ones that for now always play in the background as we work for the future of condors. First, here’s a heart-breaking video of condor 401, in the final throes of lead poisoning. This guy hatched in 2006 and had been treated at least 5 times for lead poisoning. RIP 401 — you shouldn’t have had to endure this.
  • And a photo of what the sand looks like after being traversed by a lead poisoned condor. The Peregrine Fund offers this description: When a California Condor suffers from severe lead-poisoning, the digestive system paralyzes, unable to pass food or water through the system. The bird is hungry, losing weight, dehydrated, and continues to forage and feed, despite the distended crop full of rotting meat. It will continue to pack food in, because despite the greater than 3lbs of food it possesses in the crop, it feels starved and becomes anemic. This condition, we call crop-stasis, is usually the last telling sign that the bird is withering away, and it will not be long before it dies. When a 13-yr-old male condor spends days on a beach next to the river, withering away, unable to fly, and barely able to walk, dragging his wings in the sand cause his strength can no longer hold them up, but he continues to saunter the 20ft to the river to drink water, it looks like this…

Upcoming events:

Anyone living near southern California can attend a free screening of A Condor’s Shadow and meet Dolly, a 3-year old condor at An Evening With Condors and Friends – July 18th 7-9:30PM @Ojai, CA Libbey Bowl


Condor news of the week (5/21/14)

Check out this video from a newly installed nestcam in Southern California posted by USFWS. It features 111 (Red11) and her chick. The view of the chick at the end is priceless!

Here’s a marvelous video clip from the film The Condor’s Shadow that demonstrates how much care goes into growing this population through egg management. Spoiler: the eggshell trick worked and the chick, 599, is now part of the wild flock in Southern California. Look for her — she’s wearing tag Black99.  Foster mom and dad are 79 (Orange79) and 247 (Yellow47).

Condors of the Columbia exhibit opens at the Portland Zoo on May 24.