BIG SUR – Today, people around the world have the unprecedented opportunity to observe nesting California condors and their young chicks in real time via live-streaming webcams at the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Sanctuary in Big Sur along the central California coast and near the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in southern California.
Sighted courting for the first time in fall of 2014, Ventura County condor pair #111 and #509 hatched their first chick together in April. Condor #111 is a 21-year old female that has been a breeder since 2001, with four surviving offspring in the southern California flock. Male #509 is 6 years old and fledged from a wild nest near Hopper Mountain NWR. The chick of the Big Sur pair, #167 and #190 aka “Kingpin” and “Redwood Queen”, hatched in May, is female, and is expected to fledge in October. Together since 2006, this pair was the first ever recorded to nest in a coastal redwood tree. This year, the California Condor Recovery Program celebrated a milestone in endangered species recovery with a record 19 wild condor nests in California. The two live-streaming nests from Ventura and Monterey counties are two of 11 nests that are still currently active.
Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) in collaboration with Oakland Zoo and FedEx launched the first live streaming cameras of condors at release sites in Big Sur in 2013 and the new nest cam in Big Sur. Live, ad-free streaming video of the chick can be seen at both the Oakland Zoo and Ventana Wildlife Society websites at:
“Now, anyone with an internet connection can not only watch condors at two release sites, but now observe their behavior in wild nests, which is truly extraordinary,” said VWS executive director Kelly Sorenson.
The Big Sur nest webcam was made possible through the financial and technical support of the following project partners: Ventana Wildlife Society, Oakland Zoo and Fedex and HDonTap.
Installing the condor nest webcams was no small task; VWS biologists and technical experts from HDonTap hiked heavy camera equipment on foot along deep canyons and steep ridgelines for installation into the nest cavities.
“Oakland Zoo takes pride in partnering with Ventana Wildlife Society and FedEx to make these live-streaming cameras a reality,” said Nancy Filippi, Managing Director at Oakland Zoo. “Our goal is to help the public see these rare birds up-close. We hope this new nest camera will allow people to make a connection with a condor family and witness first-hand how amazing these birds are and why supporting conservation of this species is one of Oakland Zoo’s top priorities.”
Condor #799 in the Redwood tree nest. Photo credit: Mike Clark, Los Angeles Zoo
In addition to providing viewers with entertainment as the growing condor chicks stretch their wings and feet in unique yoga-like poses, explore the far reaches of their cavities, and interact with their attentive parents, these cameras also help biologists monitor the chicks and parents without trekking to the very remote nesting locations.
“HDOnTap is honored to be the technology and streaming provider behind the project in Big Sur”, said Joe Pifer Project Manager for HDOnTap. “Providing an intimate view of nature to the public is at the core of our business, and it is a privilege to work with the Ventana Wildlife Society.”
In 1982, only 22 California condors survived world-wide. By spring of 1987, all remaining wild condors had been placed in captivity thus beginning an intensive recovery effort among government agencies, zoos and other conservation groups to save the California condor from extinction. In 1992, the Service began reintroducing captive-bred condors into the wild and with the help of public and private partners the total population has grown to approximately 430 birds, with more than half of the population flying free.
The Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge nest webcam was made possible through the financial and technical support of the following project partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Santa Barbara Zoo, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Friends of California Condors Wild and Free.
Click here to view the nest webcam near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County.
Founded in 1977, Ventana Wildlife Society led the way to successful reintroduction of the Bald Eagle and the California condor, two of the most iconic birds in the world, to native habitats in central California. Through the course of their work, they developed an organizational culture that strongly values science, education and collaboration and regularly found ways for both wildlife and people to benefit from one another. VWS recovers individual species and tracks the populations of many others so that conservation can be timely as well as effective. Focusing on youth education, we better ensure that future generations have the willingness and capacity to help wildlife. Our vision is to have a society who cares for and supports wildlife across the planet, particularly in California. www.ventanaws.org.
The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at www.oaklandzoo.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. Visit us at www.fws.gov.