Iniko to be released!

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.

Open Wide!

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 had a good feed last night and had lots of fish from 2 out of the 3 deliveries before 11 am on 26 April. The trio are waiting for delivery 4!

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.

Rising from the ashes – how the Basin Complex Fire and the Dolan Fire are threads that bind

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:

https://www.altaonline.com/dispatches/a35588538/california-condor-sighting-joy-lanzendorfer/

“California condor” by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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!

Redwood Queen just leaving for a break. 15 April 2021
Phoenix arriving to incubate his egg. 15 April 2021

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:

https://www.altaonline.com/events/a35951377/alta-live-california-condors-kelly-sorensen/

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.

Amazing News. Redwood Queen and Iniko

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.

“Flying California condor” by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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

“Vermilion Cliffs National Monument – Condor Viewing Site” by BLMArizona is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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:

https://www.ventanaws.org/

They also have several streaming cams including this one at Big Sur: