Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: February 16, 2021 2:59 pm
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo's breeding program for the endangered California condor is off to a flying start. They have recorded the fastest start to their breeding season in the 18 year program with nine eggs laid this season.
"It's still early in the season, and we're not going to count any condors before they're hatched," said Dr. Kelly Flaminio, who oversees the Oregon Zoo's condor recovery efforts. "Still, a start like this gives us great hope that we'll be able to help bolster wild condor numbers — especially after last year's devastating wildfires."
This year the first egg of the season was laid on January 15th to condor No. 756. January ended with three mothers laying their eggs on the 31st. The most recent egg was laid on February 7th. More eggs are expected in the coming weeks with the first hatching anticipated in March.
Keepers will allow the birds to incubate their eggs for two weeks before they will check if they are fertile.
To determine if they are fertile keepers will candle the eggs. This process involves placing a bright light behind the egg so you can see the detail inside.
To protect these precious birds fertile eggs will be placed in an incubator to prevent damage. The parents sit on fake eggs until the eggs start to hatch which takes up to 58 days. At this times the real eggs go back to the parents to be cared for.
— AD —
In some cases the parents will not receive the fake egg which will cause some to lay a second egg. This process known as 'double clutching' leads to a second chick and can dramatically increase the number of chicks successfully raised each season.
"Condors typically lay only one egg a year, and with scarcely more than 500 of these birds on the planet, each new egg is critical for the species' survival," Flaminio said.
California condors remain critically endangered in the wild having been one of the original species on the 1973 Endangered Species Act. In 1982 only 22 of these birds remained in the wild. During 1987 these last birds were brought in to captivity where their numbers have been increased to 500 birds.
Oregon Zoo conduct their condor recovery efforts from the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County on Metro-owned open land. This facility is in a rural setting which reduces the exposure of the chicks to humans increasing their survival in the wild.
More than 70 chicks have been hatched at the Jonsson Center since 2003 with 50 of these birds having been released.
A number of other zoos in the US also operate California condor breeding programs helping to raise their numbers.
California condor eggs incubate at the Oregon Zoo
Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo
Copyright The Animal Facts 2020