It was a perfect morning in San Simeon for the release of three female condors. They included Rachel Carson, Dian Fossey, and Iniko. What a wonderful tribute to those two dedicated women who cared so much for the birds and the environment. Rachel Carson alerted everyone to the effects of DDT and her writing and outreach caused it to be banned. Dian Fossey was responsible for bringing international attention to Mountain Gorillas.
At 12 noon the lower door to the release cage was opened. Iniko #1031 was already down there. All bets were on this very confident female to leave first. She was very cautious of her surroundings and the open space. In the end, Iniko flew ‘upstairs’ with the other birds and it was Dian Fossey who flew out first quickly followed by Iniko. The staff had placed a cow outside for them – a food reward – to mark the return to the wild. After some scuffles, it turned out that Iniko is the most confident dominant bird of that group! She got right on top of the carcass.
In the image above, the two females, Iniko and Dian are upstairs. The door will be opened from another structure. Ever since the California Condor chicks were captured, the level of interaction with humans has been kept to a bare minimum.
Two images of Iniko out of the release cage on top of the cow having a much deserved lunch!
The video of the release will be posted later today or tomorrow. You can see other release videos here:
It was just a wonderful event for all the people at Ventana Wildlife and the Los Angeles Zoo who worked diligently to get these magnificent birds back to the wild at the Big Sur Condor Colony.
Before the Dolan Fire in 2020, there were 102 Condors. There were 79 after. With the release of these Condors, the numbers in the wild will be back up to 91 in Central California. Each of the released birds carries a bright orange and black number indicator. They also have GPS transmitters. The staff will be watching to see if Iniko finds her mother, Redwood Queen. Redwood Queen was not in the area of the release today but with the transmitters, they will be able to see if they find one another in the wild.
It was just one of those moments when you know that wonderful things are going on. We might have to look for them but often, they are so positive that it gives us joy and hope.
Take care everyone. Lovely to have you with me for this momentous occasion.
Thank you to the Ventana Wildlife Society and the San Simeon Condor Centre for their streaming cam where I took these screen captures.