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First Condor Nest in 100 Years Appears at Pinnacles National Monument

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Male condor 318 incubates an egg at Pinnacles National Monument, about 5 hours north of L.A. | Photo via National Park Service

Male condor 318 incubates an egg at Pinnacles National Monument, about 5 hours north of L.A. | Photo via National Park Service
The endangered California Condor has faced some tough times, but it appears to be making a slow, yet strong comeback. Once down to a known-population of 22 in the 1980s, current counts have them at 348 today with more than half living in the wild. However, that number could soon grow to 349.

National Park Service officials with Pinnacles National Monument excitedly announced yesterday that the first Condor nest in 100 years has appeared within park boundaries. A 1½ year-old female (#317) released last year has mated with a nearly 7-year-old male (#318), who was released in 2004 along the Big Sur coast. Park biologists observed the two birds perform courtship behaviors for almost a month before an egg appeared.

The collecting Condor eggs partially led to the decline of the species over the years, as well as the chemical DDT, shooting, poisoning from lead and strychnine and general habitat degradation. In 1967, the bird, which is the largest in North America, was put on the endangered species list.

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“We are thrilled that after being involved with the Condor Recovery Program since 2003, the park has its first nest in over 100 years,” said Eric Brunnemann, the Park's Superintendent. “…and conveniently Condors 317 and 318 chose a nest cave that can be easily viewed by the public from the Scout Peak bench on the High Peaks Trail."

Condor eggs on average take 57 days to hatch and then some 5½ to 6 months before they attempt flight (that'd be October before this bird could try it). Biologists will be closely monitoring progress.

In 2009, a pair of Condors laid an egg nearby on private property in southern San Benito County. The juvenile continues today to fly overhead in the area. In all, there have been six groups of the birds released at the monument, bringing the total to 26 free-flying condors in the area.

Related: The Live Bald Eagle Webcam on Santa Cruz Island is Back!