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.
Holly Parsons, the administrator for the Orange Peregrine Falcon FB group, has posted the following from Cilla Kinross regarding Yurruga:
I took some images of beautiful Diamond throughout the day.
We would expect the parents to visibly be supplying prey to Yurruga. Many of you will have seen the adults at 367 Collins Street bringing in prey. You might recall how the Dad tried so hard to feed the little male when he was too sick and could not eat or swallow anything. Just pause and remember the healthy chicks at that nest and the noise they made even prior to fledging when food was around. Then remember Yurruga and how he behaved when prey came to the scrape. The falcons are loud in their food begging just like the four lads at Port Lincoln. The little ones simply cannot go without eating and while they are learning to fly they are also being taught how to hunt. It is unclear how instinctive hunting is. For example, the adult Ospreys do not teach their fledglings how to fish. They simply are hardwired to do it. Peregrine Falcon parents spend much time passing prey around, dropping it for the wee one to catch, etc. Certainly Yurruga had at least a days training because he was seen flying around with the parents prior to the big storm. There would be several prey drops during a day. No one has anything confirmed after last Thursday in Australia, 9 days ago now. I know that each of us wants this outcome to be different and I would like nothing better than for someone a mile away to phone Cilla and tell her that Yurruga is on their roof or in their garden. The long sessions in the scrape together may be Xavier and Diamond bonding in grief. There is also the additional issue of the absence of the eggs. Diamond has spent an inordinate amount of time scraping where the eggs were. My heart really goes out to her.
Sad news is also coming out of California. The California Condor chick #1075 died at the Los Angeles Zoo on 12 November. He had sustained injuries from adult male condor #247 during a territorial dispute. I know that many of you watched that streaming cam. Their lives are so very very fragile and to have a death of a promising chick due to fights is extremely difficult to process. There seems to be a lot of territorial disputes. You might remember that California Condor #1031 Iniko who survived the Dolan Fire was actually injured when an adult male came to the nest tree. —— Which reminds me! Iniko will be released back into the community of condors where he hatched on Saturday along with two others. This is great news coming on the heels of grief.
We really need some good news in Bird World. Iniko’s release is, of course, one of those. I really hope it is OK to cut and paste this amazing story from that Valerie Webber posted on the Loch Garten and Other Ospreys FB page. It is a marvellous tale of German Osprey Black 1FO seen in Portugal in Dec 2005/Jan 2006 and again in September 2021. So the question that is being asked is where has this bird been? It is more than 16 years old and this is truly remarkable – 3 sightings only in all those years. He really is a very handsome bird.
More good news come in the form of a Pacific Black Duck named Daisy who has now laid her first egg in the Sydney White-bellied Sea Eagle nest. An earlier blog today gave more images and some details. So nice to have her back! I am so excited about Daisy’s return that I can’t sleep! You can catch her on the Sydney Sea Eagle Cam. She laid her first egg today. She must have rushed to get to the nest OR she had made a nest elsewhere and predators came. We might not know. She will begin lining the nest with the down from her breast. That down will not only make it soft for her and the eggs but also will help cover the eggs when she has to go forage. She will also mix the down with leaves on the nest and cover the nest with those leaves. I hope there are lots of them!
Every one of the lads on the Port Lincoln Osprey Nest has had a fish today. Port Lincoln also says that the three have been seen at the shore going for a bit of a swim or a bath. Fantastic.
The three are over on the perches and ropes near Mum. What a beautiful image. I wish that Dad was there, too. The fledglings are gradually spending more time on the perches and ropes and flying around. They are growing up and shortly might be off on their own. I need to check and find out when Solly permanently left the barge. That might give us some clue.
I know that many of you are familiar with the Welsh Ospreys, Aran and Mrs G at the Glaslyn Nest. You might also know that one of Monty and Glesni’s sons, Aeron Z2, and his mate Blue 14 have their nest close by at Pont Croesor. Glaslyn has announced that the new hide is finished and visitors will be able to observe the nest of Z2 and Blue 14. That is great news.
That is it for me. I am sufficiently exhausted from the excitement of Daisy that I might be able to sleep. This is my Friday newsletter. I will bring updates later tomorrow (Friday the 3rd) evening.
Take care everyone. Thanks for joining me.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams or FB pages where I took my screen captures: Loch Garten and Other Ospreys FB, Orange Peregrine Falcon FB, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Sydney Sea Eagles @Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre, and Charles Sturt University and Cilla Kinross.
With the uncertainty and sadness surrounding little Yurruga and our deepest condolences to Cilla Kinross and the team at Orange, it is heart warming to know that miracles do happen in Bird World.
On 4 December at 09:30 PT, you can witness one of those. Condor 1031, Iniko, will be released into the wild!
As the Dolan fire decimated the beautiful Redwood Forest where Iniko’s nest tree was, everyone believed that the wee babe of Redwood Queen and Kingpin had perished. The streaming cam did not survive the fire and there was no way to find out until it was safe enough to enter the forest. I think that you can well imagine the astonishment on the faces of those that first saw the little condor alive on the small remote camera inserted into the tree.
Here is that video from the Ventana Wildlife Society.
This video shows that rescue!
Here is a link to Iniko’s bio and all of the videos since this amazing California Condor hatched!
On Saturday, you can watch live when Iniko is released back into the wild of its Big Sur Condor Community. You need to sign up and the Ventana Wildlife Society will send you the link for the Zoom event. It is free! And, yes, we could all use some good news today.
If you want to watch the event life, go to this link and sign up:
Today is also ‘Giving Tuesday’. No doubt you have had lots of e-mails from everyone who depends on donations to survive including those wonderful wildlife rehabbers who give our birds a second chance at life. Many have patrons that will match the total received. It is a good time to double the impact of your gift, if you are able.
Thank you for joining me. If you cannot make the release of Condor 1030 Iniko, the Ventana Wildlife Society will definitely be posting this event. It represents that miracle. I would like to think that maybe there might be a miracle for little Yurruga today.
The streaming cam has been down at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge most of the morning. It was also a dreadfully wet and miserable start to the day. Mum tried as she might to snuggle up with her three babies (can we call them babies anymore?). At 10:30 they were wet, cold, and probably hungry.
The first fish arrived at 11:09:12. Even the sun came out for the occasion. Mum was still feeding the trio at noon.
In the image below, Dad is eating his share and making certain the fish is dead before he delivers it to Mum and the chicks.
Mum has the fish and she is getting ready to feed the three hungry chicks. It is late for the breakfast fish.
There is Little Bob at the end. What is he looking at so intently?
I wonder if it is Dad flying away. Look at the expression on his little face.
Whatever it is, Little Bob is more interested in what is happening off the nest than eating his first fish of the day. That is pretty incredible. Little Bob is always the one who wants to be fed first!
Oh, two of the chicks are watching instead of eating. Is Dad giving a flying demonstration? These chicks are developing just as they should. They are becoming much more interested in things happening outside of the world of the nest. They are standing more and beginning to flap their wings. Think they are dreaming of flying? Little Bob is 29 days old today. The two older siblings are 31 days.
For those that are worried, Little Bob has stood up to ‘sometimes nasty’ Big Bob. Little has done that twice that I am aware. This nest is really calm and the chicks are so big that we should all expect them to fledge with their satellite packs. I understand they will be ringed, get their sat paks, and get their names in early November. Oh, I cannot wait to find out what the names will be this year.
When the three fledge, this will be a historic moment for this nest. Perhaps with the first fledgling of all three hatches, the curse of this nest will be lifted. These two adults have demonstrated clearly that they are highly capable parents and can easily raise a nest of three chicks from hatch to fledge.
Oh, look at Little Bob and look carefully – there is another chick looking up in awe, too. What an expression!
Now down to the business of breakfish!
After eating for 40 minutes, the chicks are beginning to get nice filled crops.
By noon, the fish is finished. Everyone is full and ready for a bit of a snooze.
The three osplets had no more than settled down when the second fish arrived on the nest at 12:35:28. Little Bob is on the right. He is turning around and probably cannot quite believe what he is seeing – another fish!
The role of the crop is to grind up the food before it enters the stomach. It also serves as a storage tank. The chicks can ‘drop their crop’ when they need nourishment. The reality of a raptors life is that they might eat well one day but not have any food for another two days. They need to eat as much as they can when they have the opportunity.
There they are lined up very politely for Mum again. I do not believe I have ever seen such a civil nest of growing ospreys. They might have their spats but not at the table. They line up and Mum feeds them. She is very fair. I have not noticed her favouring one over another. She does, in fact, often feed them as they appear in the line – one bite each and then back to the beginning. The other thing that is noticeable is the chicks do stop eating when they are full allowing the line to close so the other two are only being fed.
Is this behaviour down to the simple fact that they are so close in age? There is only 51 hours separating Big Bob from the time Little Bob hatched.
Just look at how close they are in size.
One of the chicks has left the table. Little Bob (see the roundish spot on the top of his head?) is still hungry. Of course, he is.
The second fish was done and dusted by 13:02. Little Bob is still looking. Maybe he sees some fish skin? or is there a piece of tail? He has a very nice crop.
In terms of size, I can no longer tell Little Bob from the other two. If the roundish spot disappears I will no longer be able to identify him as easy. He is growing so much. Wonder if Little Bob is a female?
Ah, it is silly to try and guess the genders but we all do it. They will measure the chicks when they are ringed. Of course, the measurements are not foolproof. Only DNA or an egg or mating can confirm.
Once the three are fed and all is well, it is much easier for me to sleep. The wee eyas of Xavier and Diamond’s have also had several meals today. You can clearly see that it has more than doubled in size from hatch.
Xavier is on the ledge while Diamond feeds the chick the prey he delivered. Look at the size of the wee one’s wing. Is it looking over to Xavier?
When Xavier turned around, I thought it was last year’s chick, Izzi.
Only Bob is looking directly at the beak and eyes of Diamond. Diamond is so delicate with the tiny little bites she feeds her baby.
The chick’s neck is now so much stronger. It can hold its head still for longer so that Diamond can feed it. The bobbling days are pretty much over. Notice, at times, that the chick instinctively keeps its balances by placing its wing tip on the gravel.
I absolutely love this image of Xavier looking so tenderly at his baby.
All full. The little one has now had four meals. Unlike the Ospreys, Only Bob needs many meals and fewer bites. Her crop is tiny. She is now collapsing into a food coma.
Awww. I wonder if Xavier wishes that Diamond would let him brood the chick? Perhaps she will in a few days but the falcon mothers are extremely protective in the beginning.
The Collins Street Four have been eating, sleeping, growing, and decorating the walls around the scrape. Their world is that of the scrape box. They are not as interested – yet – in what is happening outside of their world. They will become more interested, just like the Osplets at Port Lincoln, in a couple of weeks.
As the days pass, we will begin to notice a difference in size. This is not due to the amount of food the eyases eat individually. It will be because some of them are males and some are females. The females will be approximately 30% larger than the males and they will consume about 25% more food (nothing staggering). When fledge time comes, it is normally the males that fledge first. Their feathers will have covered them quicker because they are smaller! It is that simple.
Last year we did not notice a difference in size in the triplets. That is because they were all females. I do hope Dad gets a break this year and has a couple of males. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to try and feed four large females!
They are beginning to look slightly different in their faces. Notice the one facing the back who looks more ‘hawk’ like.
These eyases are more than full. Look at that shiny big crop. My gracious.
If you missed the live streaming of Iniko 1031 arriving at the pre-release containment area at Big Sur, here is the video of that moment. The condors are so endangered and there is no telling how many more wildfires will rage. Fingers crossed!
It is late on the Canadian Prairies. Our damp is supposed to go away on Saturday. Meanwhile, it is the annual birdseed sale at our nature centre this weekend. It is a great time to get high quality feed for a big discount and help out the centre as well. You might check and see if your local nature centre does this. The savings can be substantial. I will also continually remind people that if you have a local feed and seed store, you might be able to find Millet, corn, Black Oil seed, peanuts in their shells at a substantially lower price point. My neighbours introduced me to this years ago but, sadly, the big feed store moved. The distance makes it no longer viable as a source.
Thank you for joining me. It is always a pleasure to receive your notes and letters. I appreciate the time you take to write to me whether it is an e-mail or a public comment. You take care. See you soon. All of these nests are doing so well that we can all rest easy. Life is good!
Thank you to the Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Charles Sturt University Falcon Cam at Orange and Cilla Kinross, and Collins Street Falcons by Mirvac for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots.
The California Condor, Iniko (1031), is the daughter of 190 Redwood Queen and 167 Kingpin. She hatched on 25 April 2020 in the large Redwood Tree in the Big Sur area of California. Iniko was caught as a nestling in the tree during the Dolan Fire that ravaged the area from late August through December of 2020.
Iniko means ‘Born in Troubled Times’. The individuals who named this amazing baby could not have predicted how horrific 2020 was to be.
The streaming cam to the nest was lost and it was feared that Iniko had perished in the fire. To everyone’s surprise, she was alive! 190 Redwood Queen also survived the fire but, sadly, 167 Kingpin is presumed to have died.
This video by Lady Hawk shows the rescue of Iniko after she had been knocked out of the tree by an intruding condor. Her leg was injured and she will be taken into care at the Los Angeles Zoo.
This is what Iniko looks like on 7 October 2021.
Here is a video clip showing Iniko interacting with Eva, her pen mate.
Now for the really great news. Tomorrow, Iniko will be transferred from the Los Angeles Zoo to San Simeon. On her arrival, she will receive her official wing tag. The tag will be orange with the number 31 on it painted in black. This is because Iniko’s number is 1031. As a result, she has come to be known as the Halloween Queen. On Wednesday, 13 October – that is just two days away – Iniko will be placed in the pre-release pen at San Simeon along with nine other condors. You can watch her and the others on the streaming cam at San Simeon. Here is the link:
On the 4th of December, Iniko will be released back into the wild into the Big Sur Flock where she hatched. The Ventana Wildlife Society live stream the event. I will provide the details as the release date approaches.
Here is a wonderful short video on Baby Iniko’s life:
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the headlines of doom and gloom in the news. Sadly, ‘bad’ reports often garner more viewers than positive ones. The return of Iniko to her Condor Flock is one of those feel good stories that should stay with you. There are people, around the world, working hard every day to help wildlife. I cannot even imagine what it was like for those that rescued this extremely rare bird from the burnt forest floor. They must have been overcome with joy. Tune in to watch when she is released!
Thank you for joining me. This is simply a joyous moment. Take care. See you soon!
Thank you to the Ventana Wildlife Society and the Los Angeles Zoo for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots.
Featured Image: Iniko in Redwood Tree taken by S. Herrera for the Ventana Wildlife Society.
Redwood Queen is keeping an eye on that egg. If this is a successful hatch – and there is no reason to think it won’t be – it will be the first chick for Redwood Queen and her second mate, Phoenix. The egg is believed to be laid between 26 February and 3 March. What a wonderful event for this giant Redwood scorched with Iniko, Redwood Queen and Kingpin’s chick from 2020, inside. Both of the parents of this fortunate chick have survived major fires in the area. We know that Redwood Queen survived the Dolan Fire last year and Phoenix survived the Basin Complex Fire in 2008, the year he hatched. Redwood Queen is much older, having hatched in the Los Angeles Zoo, in 1998. She might have survived other fires. Let us all hope that the entire population of Condors – a little over 500 – is safe from any wildfires this year.
The Ventana Wildlife Society issues the following statement on 26 April:
“Redwood Queen and Phoenix are still incubating and we are hoping their egg will start hatching any day now. The hatch date of 4/24 was our best “guesstimate”, we could be off by as many as 2-4 days. We first observed the egg on March 3rd and estimated the egg was laid on 2/26. This was based on radio telemetry data and movements of the pair from the week prior. If Redwood Queen actually laid closer to March 2nd, which is possible, then the egg wouldn’t start hatching until April 28. So we have a 3-4 day hatch window.”
Speaking of eggs, an intruder eagle came to the nest of Milda and broke her remaining egg and made a mess of her nest. It is one of those blessings in disguise. It is believed that the egg in the nest was the first one that Milda had laid on the 12th of March and that it was non-viable. I am not an expert and cannot tell. The intruder eagle ate most of the insides of the egg. Now Milda can forage for food for herself and build up her strength. She is not a mate of Mr Chips (Cips) yet – they did not mate. I hope that she finds a really extraordinary mate and that she will have a successful clutch next year.
Grinnell has his hands full today. It looks like the little fluff balls of his and Annie’s are growing so fast that they will not fit under him anymore. Look how they look at their dad. Grinnell, you are so cute!
And talk about cute – have a look at this adorable little Moli waiting for its parents to come and feed it. This is a special Laysan Albatross chick. It is the 39th chick of the oldest banded bird in the world – Wisdom. Wisdom is 71 years old and her band number is Z333 (Red and White). Her mate is Akeakamai. Her baby has a temporary band so it is easy to recognize and that number is 33 in honour of its mother.
A bit of relief over at the Savannah Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island. The dad has brought in a fish and both are getting fed. Maybe this will ease the food competition and let these two get on to growing and enjoying one another’s company.
Yesterday it was a feast on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. Today it is hot, 29 degrees C, and there has been only one delivery. That came at 7:02:16. Tiny Tot got enough of that fish that he had a nice little crop. Still, he is at the quick growth stage and he needs more food more frequently. It is 4:30 on the nest. Fingers crossed for a couple of late night deliveries.
Tiny is grabbing the shade from Diane around 10am in the image below and Diane is calling. Chicks thought it might have been a delivery for a bit.
You can still see Tiny Tot’s little bit of a crop.
At 13:38:31 on 27 April 2021, a mysterious stranger with a metal band on its right leg landed on Iris’s nest at Hellgate. Well, now. This could get interesting.
I am going to say ‘he’ in the hope that ‘he’ might be a fantastic mate for Iris and claim this part of Louis’s plot.
Everything is just fine on the Red Tail Hawk Nest on the Cornell University Campus of Big Red and Arthur. There are three eggs being incubated and we are heading into hatch watch.
Thanks for joining me today for a peak at the nests. All of the Osprey Nests are doing grand in the UK except for the Loch Arkaig Nest. Hope that Aila will return from her migration to raise a family with Louis is quickly dissipating. Louis has been bringing fish to another female on platform 1 and they have been mating. It is an arduous migration. Many hope that if Aila did not arrive in Scotland that she settled somewhere else – she was loved by so many. And there is news that there are now three eggs on the Osprey nest in Urdaibai, Northern Spain. Take care. I hope it is nice where you are. The weather is grand on the Canadian Prairies and it is time to go and take care of the birds in my garden. The water bowls need filling. Everyone is enjoying a good bath today.
Thanks to the following streaming cams: Ventana Wildlife Society, Explore.org, Cornell Bird Lab and Red Tail Hawks, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, UC Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, and the Latvian Wildlife Fund. Thanks also to the Midway Atoll FB Page where the image of Wisdom’s Moli was posted.
The grey skies and the cold to the bone weather on the Canadian prairies just added to the sadness at the Latvian White-tailed eagle nest. Parallel with the events of the two chicks dying from hypothermia came a wonderful letter from the LDF answering many questions I had about Milda and the nest. I will write up that information in a couple of days.
Milda was starving. She is a devoted mother but she had no food for her or her chicks and Mr C appears to be an on again, off again mate. It is unclear if there were intruders in the area. Mr C is on the branch watching the nest while Milda eats a nice big piece of fish – this fish arrived 24 hours after the nest ran out of food when Mr C removed the few remains of the Crow Milda had been feeding to the chicks. Sadly, she is now incubating the unviable egg.
The fourth egg at the UC Berkeley Peregrine Falcon nest in the Campanile must have been removed. The three little marshmallows are getting some pin feathers. It is hard to believe! They are consuming vast amounts of pigeon and transforming it into the fastest raptor on the planet. Here Annie is saying, ‘Open Wide!’
Annie and Grinnell are such devoted parents. Look at those little ones all tucked under mom right after their feeding.
Sometimes ‘open wide’ does not necessarily relate to food and a feeding. In the case of N24, our beautiful Legacy, it meant open your wings and fly. Legacy fledged this morning at 9:01! All of the aunties and uncles and grannies will be crying tears of joy and sadness. Legacy is a magnificent fledgling Bald Eagle now. She overcame Avian Pox and is the pride of Samson and Gabby and her grandparents, Romeo and Juliet. Look at the gorgeous profile of that head! And that deep, deep espresso plumage. Stunning.
There she goes at 9:01:54.
Lady Hawk put a video together from the three separate cameras. You can watch this historic event in this eagle’s life here:
In the case of Tiny Tot on the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida, we can talk about opening wings and mouths. Tiny Tot loves to open his wings like a Lamborghini. Wonder if the car designers looked at the birds for inspiration? Certainly those that built the bullet train in Japan did – they used four different birds to help them get the fastest train on the planet (at the time).
Tiny Tot had a crop all morning. There were three fish deliveries before 11am! Jack has really been working to keep this pantry full. There were deliveries at 6:50:30, 9:35:05, and this is the third delivery at 10:59:18:
Tiny is really growing with all the food he has been eating. Sometimes you have to look really close to figure out which chick he is now. His ‘whiskers’ are settling down and he is getting the white plumage on his chest. There he is in the middle. You can see his nice crop.
Tiny Tot ate lots from fish 1, none from fish 2, and plenty from fish 3. In the image below he is being fed from fish 1. Sibling 1 had some bites and sibling 2 had a couple but, as is typical first thing in the morning, the older sibs are not as interested in eating then as they are later in the day. Tiny will eat anytime! Open wide, Tiny Tot!
Here is Tiny running to get up to the fish!
Tiny does not get anything from the second delivery but he does in the third and has a very nice crop.
Tiny is really full when the fourth fish arrives but he goes up and gets some nice pieces anyway – not a lot but remember, he is full.
Tiny Tot opens his wings wide!
Tiny Tot has eaten well today and no doubt, since it is only 3:30, there will be more fish to come. Jack, you are amazing. Diane has had some fish and everyone is doing great!
And speaking of opening wide, all eyes are on the California Condor nest in Big Sur where the egg of Redwood Queen and Phoenix is between pip and hatch.
The burnt tree in the centre is where the nest is located. The Dolan Fire ravaged this area from August to the end of December in 2020. Iniko survived the fire – he was the 2020 chick of Redwood Queen and Kingpin. Iniko is at the Los Angeles Zoo and is set to be released with a group of captive bred birds later this year.
Sadly, Redwood Queen’s mate, Kingpin, did not survive the fire. She bonded with Phoenix and this is their egg in the same nest that Iniko hatched.
Redwood Queen has just returned from having a short break. There is a stream close to the nest and she might have gone for a cool drink. It is fine to leave the egg for a short amount of time.
Thank you to each of you for joining me today. I know that we all wish that the situation at the Lavian White-tailed Eagle nest were different. I will be writing a history of the nest and looking into the weather in the area. Normally the birds time their hatches to when the animals will be coming out of winter hibernation so there is lots of food. I am curious if the cold weather has caused issues with getting prey for Milda and Mr C.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams – that is where I get my screen shots: Ventana Wildlife Society, Explore.org, Latvian Wildlife Fund, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Achieva Credit Union, NEFlorida Bald Eagle Cam and the AEF.
Today was ‘supposed’ to be the day that I re-organized my books and my desk – plus dusting – but, several wonderful distractions came in the mail. Always happy to talk about our beloved birds than doing the dusting!
Ventana Wildlife Society in Monterey California and the condors at Big Sur are featured in an article by Joy Lanzendorfer in Alta Journal. I am going to post the link and hope that you are able to read it for free. It is joyous-an article that pulls at your heart strings as Lanzendorfer talks about witnessing the release of the first condors bred in captivity. Here is the link:
What also caught my eye was a story about the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. It reminded me of the Dolan Fire last year and baby Iniko – and now there is a thread that binds the tragic life of the birds of those two fires.
In 2008, the Basin Complex Fire burned through the Redwood trees.
“Finding Phoenix alive after such a devastating burn was truly a miracle, however, locating his nest tree and climbing that massive redwood took all the adrenaline I could muster, it was the toughest and scariest climb of my life! (Condor Recover Program manager Joe Burnett). Here is a very short video of that moment:
In 2020, the Dolan Fire began on 18 August and continued to burn until 31 December 2020. If the miracle of the Basin Complex Fire was the survival of Phoenix 477, then the miracle of the Dolan Fire was the survival of Iniko. Iniko’s father, King Pin 167, is believed to have died in the blaze but his mother, Redwood Queen 190 survived. Iniko was found in her charred nest tree alive.
Iniko fledged but was injured. She was taken into care at the Los Angeles Zoo and will be released into the wild this year. It is amazing.
The thread that binds these two fires is Iniko’s mother, Redwood Queen 190 and Phoenix 477 that survived the Basin Complex Fire. The two have formed a bond and have laid an egg together which they are incubating in Redwood Queen and Iniko’s nest tree.
Redwood Queen 190 calls to her mate Phoenix 477 on 4 March to show him the newly laid egg.
Here are the parents today incubating the egg. If the egg survives, it is expected to hatch at the end of April. Iniko will be a big sister!
You can watch this miracle unfold here:
One of the reasons that I wanted to get this blog out quickly is a Zoom webinar scheduled for Wednesday, 21 April, 12:30 Pacific Time. Kelly Sorenson will be joined by Joy Lanzendorfer to talk about the return of the condors from extinction. It is free but you must register. Copy this link and you will see the information and the tab to register:
Thank you for joining me on this quick update on these magnificent birds. How can you not love a condor? And the story of Redwood Queen, Iniko, and Phoenix is a miracle. Let us all hope the little one arrives safe and healthy!
Thank you to Ventana Wildlife Society and explore.org for their streaming cam. That is where I picked up my screen shots today.
Can you imagine living inside a large Redwood Tree with fire raging around you? and not understanding what is happening? That is what happened to little Iniko who was born on the 25th of April 2020. On 20 August the Dolan Fire at Big Sur consumed the area around its natal tree while Iniko was inside. Iniko was not yet four months old.
Some of you may remember the Dolan Fire. The fire at the Los Padres National Forest at Big Sur, California was first reported on 18 August 2020. It was not declared as being fully contained until 31 December 2020. The cause remains unknown although there are suspicions that it was arson. It was devastating to the entire area.
The impact on both human and non-human life was horrific. The fire destroyed 124,924 acres of Los Padres National Forest. The fire killed eleven of the condors (or 10% of the entire endangered population). #167 Kingpin, Iniko’s father and Redwood Queen’s mate is missing and is presumed dead; he has not returned to the area.
Condors have a long lifespan, approximately sixty years. The condors reach breeding age at five or six years and once they find a mate, they will be bonded together for life unless one of them dies.
California condors are the largest of the flying birds in North American with a wing span of up to three metres or ten feet. Like other large flying birds, the California Condor glides on thermals (air currents) and has been seen flying as high as 4.57 metres or 15,000 feet. The majority of the California condors life in California, Baja California, Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.
The condors, vultures, are easily recognized. Their bald head is a bright red-orange colour when mature with a black body and white triangles under their wings. They are known to travel up to 240 kilometres or 150 miles to find carrion (dead animals). Many people call them the ‘nature’s clean up crew’. Their baldness allows them to stay clean and their unique immune system means that they do not get sick when eating dead animals
Condors have nests inside trees. on the sides of cliffs, or in caves. They do not use nesting material but lay an egg, every other year, on the floor of the tree or cave. Both parents help with the incubation and feeding of the young who fledge at the age of five or six months.
Of the condors in the Dolan fire, Red Queen and her daughter, Iniko, made headlines when the firefighters could not reach the nearly four month old baby because the large Redwood tree Iniko was in was unstable. The name Iniko means ‘born in troubled times’ and it certainly was that.
Here is a short video summary of Iniko’s life. You can hear the fire around the tree and see the attack on the tree by a Condor named Ninja.
This video shows the rescue of Iniko.
Today, Iniko is in the care of the Los Angeles Zoo. She will be returned to the wild in 2021. Isn’t that amazing news?
Redwood Queen was born in the Los Angeles Zoo in 1998. She is condor #190 and was released into the wild in 1998. As a juvenile she was constantly harassed and was, according to sightings, the last one allowed to eat. Because of her low status she did not find a mate til later. Luckily, Kingpin #167 was attracted to her. Kingpin #167 was the most dominant male in the Big Sur colony, and Redwood Queen’s status among the group went from lowest to highest. Redwood Queen laid the first documented egg for a California condor. Kingpin and Redwood Queen fostered one condor and had five biological children- Kodama #646 (2012), Liberty #753 (2014), Princess #799 (2015), Pasquale #914 (2018), and Iniko #1031 (2020).
It was announced yesterday that Redwood Queen has found a new mate. He is Phoenix #477 and the pair have an egg in the Redwood tree where Iniko was born. Life is returning to the old Redwood forest with Redwood Queen who is twenty-three years old.This and the upcoming release of Iniko are bringing joy to all who worried about that deadly fire on the Big Sur California condor community. Here is the video showing Redwood Queen with her new mate and their egg.
Join with everyone in the celebration of this momentous occasion and have a fabulous Saturday wherever you are. Life is returning to the old Redwood forest with Redwood Queen who is twenty-three years old.
Thank you to the Ventana Wildlife Society who take care of the California Condors. If you like condors then check out their website! There is lots of information and updates. You can find them at: