For the first time in more than three decades, an endangered California condor chick has successfully fledged from a cliffside nest in Santa Barbara County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said.
Last month, condor No. 933 took its first short flight after being raised for six months by its parents in the northern Santa Barbara backcountry of Los Padres National Forest, said Robyn Gerstenslager, public affairs specialist in the Ventura office of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The chick hatched in late April and was raised by a 6-year-old female condor and a 38-year-old male condor, popularly known as AC-4.
The new chick represents a milestone in the condor recovery program as the first second-generation wild fledgling in Southern California, Gerstenslager said.
The chick is also AC-4’s first offspring to successfully take flight from its nest in the wild, she said.
AC-4 fledged from the Santa Barbara backcountry in 1980 and was among the last remaining 22 California condors on Earth captured by biologists to create a captive breeding program.
While in captivity, AC-4 sired 30 chicks that were later released into the wild as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-led California Condor Recovery Program.
He was returned to the wild in 2015.
Gerstenslager said 2018 was a record-breaking nesting season for condors in Southern California, as scientists recorded 12 nests — the highest number across the broadest range ever documented in the area.
Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo biologists will monitor the nest for the next month and expect to equip the chick with a tag and GPS transmitter within the next year.