First California condor chick of 2019 hatches at Oregon Zoo facility

California condor in Condors of the Columbia at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Zoo shared some “egg-citing” news Friday; their first condor chick of 2019 was born.

The Oregon Zoo says the fluffy new chick hatched out of its shell at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation this week. The chick’s birth indicates what they say should be a great year for the condor recovery effort.

The zoo says the condors at the offsite facility have laid nine eggs so far this year, with five confirmed to be fertile. There are also three additional condor eggs arriving from other facilities. The rest of the eggs are expected to hatch in the coming weeks.

“Each new egg is important to the California condor’s comeback,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s lead condor keeper. “Every chick that hatches makes a difference.”

In the first week after hatching, care staff will pay close attention to the vulnerable chicks.

On Monday, Walker had to act quickly when she noticed the newly hatched chick was left alone.

“Once we realized the chick had been left alone, we immediately moved it to the ICU to warm up. The next morning, we placed it in a new nest to be raised by a foster parent,” said Walker. “Malibu, the chick’s new mom, began tending to her baby right away. She hasn’t left the nest box since.”

Walker says condor parents take turns brooding their chicks and the chicks stay with their parents for at least eight months before they move to the Jonsson Center’s pre-release pens for about a year and a half.

Eventually, they’ll join the free-flying condors in California, Arizona or Baja Mexico.

The California condor was one of the original animals listed on the 1973 Endangered Species Act. It is currently classified as critically endangered.

In 1982, only 22 California condors remained in the wild. By 1987, the last condors were taken into captivity in an attempt to save the species.

Thanks to breeding programs, there are now around 450 California condors. Most of them fly free.

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