Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Condor watch

Heard this on the radio on the way in ...

A condor egg was found in an abandoned eagle nest in Baja California, Mexico, the first found outside the U.S. in decades. The chick could hatch any day.

"This is a momentous occasion," Mike Wallace of the Zoological Society of San Diego told the AP.
The California condor, once on the brink of extinction, is the largest bird in North America, with a wingspan of almost 10 feet. Wallace and colleagues found the egg March 25 on a cliff in the Sierra San Pedro de Martir National Park, located in the arid interior of the Baja California peninsula.

The California condor was once widespread, swooping above the western United States, parts of Canada and Baja California. Only 22 California condors were left by the 1980s, and the last documented sighting in Mexico was in the 1930s, Wallace said.

Thanks to a captive-breeding program, numbers recovered to a worldwide total of about 280. More than 100 of these fly free in the skies above parts of California, Nevada and Utah. Working with the Mexican government, biologists reintroduced captive-bred birds to Mexico in 2002. Condors don't reproduce until they are several years old, Wallace said. The 7-year-old female that laid the egg in Mexico, known as Condor 217, was hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo.

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