Port Lincoln chicks ate well!

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.

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.

Tuesday in Bird World (updated)

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!

Isn’t Grinnell handsome? 27 April 2021

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.

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.

And then there was a pip – and other news

Congratulations to Redwood Queen #190 and Phoenix #477 on the pip of their egg. It came at 2:44 pm PDT on 24 April 2021.

Redwood Queen is one of the captive bred California Condors. She hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo on 10 May 1998. Redwood Queen is a survivor. As many of you know, my interest is in the social behaviour of avians. In particular, the long term survivability of birds – large birds like raptors, condors, and vultures – who have been treated marginally by their group. Redwood Queen was just such a bird. She was forced by her flock to eat last and then only if there was anything left on the carcass. However, the most dominant male Condor, Kingpin #167, chose Redwood Queen as his mate and her status within the group went from the bottom to the top! The pair raised five biological chicks together. One of those was #1031 Iniko, a female, who survived the Dolan Fire of 2020 in this very tree where Redwood Queen’s new chick will hatch. Sadly, Kingpin #167 has not been seen since the fire. Phoenix survived the Basin Complex fire of 2008 as a young hatchling; he hatched on 22 April that same year This will be the first chick for this new bonded pair.

Condors are very susceptible to lead poisoning. They eat the carrion or dead animals as well as the innards of the deer and other animals that hunters leave behind in the woods and forests. The Ventana Wildlife Society along with many wildlife rehabilitation and FB groups are working to get lead banned from hunting and fishing equipment. Here is a safe alternative promoted by the Ventana Wildlife Society:

There are thunderstorms brewing in the US Southeast today – many areas are expected to have heavy rain and baseball size hail and there could be tornadoes.

One Osprey nest that got hit hard was Skidiway Island. Mum has got those little osplets tucked in nice and dry.

That rain continued and ten hours later you can see all of the water and the nest still soaking at The Landings.

Weather was on the agenda in Durbe, Latvia, too, with snow falling on Milda and the White-tail Eagle Nest.

The balance to keep the babies fed but dry and not suffer from hypothermia must be a real challenge for these amazing bird mums.

Heavy winds whipped the Achieva Credit Unions artificial Osprey nest around in the afternoon. Someone thought Tiny Tot might have gotten sea sick! The winds did stop but the local weather shows they could get a thunderstorm later tonight or tomorrow.

Tiny Tot managed to snag that fish away from #2 this morning and have a good feed but #2 remembered that incident later in the day when he bonked Tiny aggressively. Tiny lost out on the afternoon fish but he will be fine. Tomorrow is another day!

From the looks of it I am going to have to stop calling him Tiny Tot though. Look at that young lad standing nice and tall. Amazing what a little food can do! (Tiny is the one at the back. Look at those nice pantaloons he is getting).

Tiger and Lily have had a good day on that Bald Eagle Nest their parents, Bonnie and Clyde, commandeered. Look at them standing on that branch having a chat! They are now flying from the branches to the nest. Oh, my, they are growing fast.

We haven’t checked on Solly for a week or so. Will she surprise us and be somewhere besides Streaky Bay? Let’s check! Ah, our girl loves this area. The fishing must be fantastic. Solly is 217 days old on 25 April. Amazing. I am so grateful that she has a satellite tracker. Just wish we would get some news of DEW.

This is nothing more than a quick check in. I wanted everyone to know about the pip at the Big Sur Condor Nest. It is really exciting. Take care of yourselves.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams; this is where I get my screen shots: Farmer Derek, Latvian Fund for Nature, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidiway Audubon, Achieva Credit Union, Ventana Wildlife and Explore.org. I would also like to thank the Port Lincoln Osprey Project and their FB page for the graph on Solly’s travels.

Nest Hopping

We are getting some really good looks at the California condor egg in Redwood Queen’s nest tree in Big Sur, California. This is the same tree that Red Wood Queen raised Pasquale and Iniko with her long time mate, King Pin. King Pin is believed to have perished in the Dolan Fire in 2020.

Redwood Queen 190 and Phoenix 477 have been taking turns incubating the egg. We will be looking for a hatch in four days time – on April 24.

Did you know that on Easter Sunday in 1987 the last living California condor was captured and taken into captivity? Today, thirty-four years later condors are being released and living in the wild again. After the fire in 2020, there are 9 missing condor including Redwood Queen’s old mate, King Pin. There are 90 California condors living in Central California and 507 in total. Those numbers show the success of the captive breeding programme that Ventana Wildlife Society and the USFWS undertook three decades ago. Seeing Redwood Queen who was born in captivity lay another egg in her burnout Redwood Tree just puts a smile on your face!

Everything seems to be fine on The Landings Savannah Osprey Nest. The two little ones are growing and had crops this morning. As everyone knows, I am hoping that the third egg is not viable. These two are great and mom and dad can handle them easily.

Two little ones waiting for breakfast. 20 April 2021

The three little Peregrine Falcon eyasses of Annie and Grinnell’s are just adorable. They are growing and getting feisty. Grinnell has been very busy catching the local pigeons and turning them into raptors. Everything is fine on this nest. Watch for the hatching of the fourth egg tomorrow!

Cute. 20 April 2021

Open wide! Peregrin falcons make a ‘clicking’ sound alerting the eyases that it is time to open wide and eat.

Time for pigeon! 20 April 2021

The sun is going down on Loch Arkaig and, as yet, there is no news of Aila returning.

Louis continues to bring in moss for the nest. 20 April 2021

All of the nests in the UK that have eggs on them are doing great. NC0 is incubating at Loch of the Lowes – what a gorgeous place for a nest! Just like that of Annie and Grinnell who are in the penthouse of the Campanile at Berkeley.

NC0 and Laddie have three eggs! 20 April 2021

Over in Wales at the Dyfi Nest, Idris is showing off his amazing fishing skills to Telyn (Blue 3J). Wow. Apparently, Monty, Idris’s predecessor was also good at catching two fish at the same time. It’s great. Idris and Telyn can have dinner together!

20 April 2021. Idris landing with 2 fish!

Tiny Tot is enjoying the view and his nice full stomach from the feeding this morning. Or in my world, I am not going to start to worry about him again for another day or so – Tiny Tot is a miracle!

There he is looking out at the traffic below. His tail is coming in nicely.

Have a terrific day everyone. Take care, stay safe!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union in Dunedin, Florida, UC Berkeley Falcon Cam, Cornell Bird and Skidiway Audubon Savannah Osprey Nest, Woodland Trust and People’s Postcode Lottery, Dyfi Nature Reserve, Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Ventana Wildlife Society and Explore.org.

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: