"Condor 1000" has taken its first flight at Zion National Park in southern Utah.
The chick was hatched in July and on Wednesday, visitors reported seeing the chick fledge, which was confirmed later in the day by park biologists.
Zion National Park posted photos and description on Facebook, saying:
When a young bird grows big enough to leave the nest, they have fledged. Usually, they are fully developed and have nearly all their flight feathers by this time. These first explorations from the nest usually don’t go very far and both parents are still nearby to care for the chick.
in 1982, California Condors were near extinction, with only 22 left in the world at the time.
In a July news release, Zion National Park stated:
Due to the steep decline of the population, the remaining wild condors were captured and held in captivity for safekeeping which gave rise to a tremendously successful captive breeding program that has allowed for reintroduction of the endangered birds back to the wild beginning first in 1992 in California and following in 1996 in Arizona. The population now numbers more than 500 with over half of those flying free in the wild. Each bird, whether produced in the wild, or in captivity, is given a studbook number to differentiate it from others, and this most recent chick received studbook number 1000. A milestone that captures the essence of the population’s progress towards recovery.
When the chick hatched in July Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' Avian Conservation Program Coordinator Russ Norvell said:
We are so excited to hear about this monumental milestone in the condor recovery program. We also applaud Zion National Park for their great stewardship of these particular birds. We look forward to continued success with all our partners in helping this endangered species.
Chris Parish, director of conservation for The Peregrine Fund praised the milestone:
After over two decades of efforts to restore condors to the southwest, it is nice to take a moment to reflect on the steady and slow progress made and thank those who have contributed so much, like Zion National Park, to see this effort through. We have a long way to go, but today we celebrate this milestone.
Lead poisoning is the leading killer of condors and remains a hurdle to the recovery of the species. Zion National Park credits hunters and others for helping to reduce the amount of lead in the environment.
Zion National Park provided the following information about the history of condors:
"40,000 years ago, condors scavenged on mammoths and giant sloths, and would have been found throughout much of North America. California condors are now limited to a small range in Arizona, Utah, northern Mexico, and California. Condors nest in caves or large crevices. A female will typically lay her egg on the floor of the cave. Both parents share incubation duties lasting approximately 57 days. The chick can take up to three days to hatch. Nestling condors are fed regurgitated meat by both of their parents. Although the chick will leave the nest and take its first flight at around six months of age, it still relies on its parents for food for as long as a year. By that time parents will have missed the next breeding season, allowing only one offspring every two years at best."