mulberry handbags Biologists hike in to learn fate of condor chick after Thomas Fire
Biologists working to recover the critically endangered species monitored the nest from a distance as the Thomas Fire charged toward the Sespe sanctuary.
They used the signal from a small radio transmitter that had been attached to one of the chick’s wings months earlier.
The young bird was the right age, and any day, they expected the chick would take its first flight. But as the fire crept closer, the chick stayed put.
Thenthey lost the signal.
It was mid December andthe Thomas Fire continued to grow. It would be a couple of weeksuntil it was safe enough to hike to the remote area.
“The nest was within the footprint of the fire,” said Joseph Brandt, supervisory wildlife biologist with the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.
Even if the chick had flown away, they knew it wouldn’t get too far.
Buy PhotoFlames and smoke billow up as the Thomas Fire burns near Fillmore. (Photo: JUAN CARLO/THE STAR)
“Its first flight from its nest is usually just the distance across a canyon,” Brandt said. “Thenit will scramble and climb its way up to another high point.”
Condors don’t flap their wings much to get around. Instead, theylearn how to harness air currents, which takes time and practice.
Then, about a week after the signal went dark, Brandt and others got some promising news.
“We were able to pick up a signal, albeit faint, for the chick,” he said.
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‘A very good sign’The signal was normal, not the kind triggered when a chick doesn’t move for 12 hours or longer, indicating a serious injury or death.
On Dec. 22, ateam got permission to get closer to the location and picked up thesignal coming from an area just across the canyon from the nest, Brandt said.
“We were pretty optimistic,” he said. But still, they hadn’t seen the chick.
With the fire still burning, they coordinated with incident commanders and private landowners in the area and got the OK to hike inJan. 2.
California condors No. 206 and No. 513 keep an eye on their chick. (Photo: Contributed/Stephanie Herrera, USFWS)
As they made their way toward the rocky cliff line, they spotted the parents first. The nest had been on the west side, now burned by the fire. The two adult condors were perched on the east side.
“That was a very good sign,” Brandt said.
Before long, they found the chick, too. A colleague fromthe Santa Barbara Zoo was first to spot her dubbed No. 871 perched on the ridge line.
As they watched, the chick stayed in the area, at one pointstretching out herwings in the sun to warm herself. As shedid, they could see some singed feathers.