ST. GEORGE — The California Condor chick that is estimated to have hatched in May in Zion National Park has fledged, making it the first chick born in the park to successfully leave the nest.
Park officials were first made aware that the chick, condor 1,000, known as 1K, had fledged when a group of visitors saw it outside of the nest on Sept. 25. Park biologists confirmed the sighting later that day.
“The chick came out of the nest and wobbled and kind of stumbled out and kind of made its way down to another ledge closeby and then took another little flight over to another ledge,” park spokesperson Eugenne Moisa said. “It’s been staying on that ledge just a little bit lower than where the nest site would be.”
When a chick has fledged, they have fully developed and are grown enough to leave the nest. Chicks typically fledge between 4-6 months old.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Moisa said. “We estimate that it’s about 4 1/2 months old. So it’s within the range of when to expect it to fledge, and so it’s right there and so it was exciting.”
After a condor chick has recently fledged, they typically stay close to the nest and both parents stay nearby to care for it, according to the park.
Park rangers and volunteers are stationed at Shuttle Stop 8, Big Bend, with spotting scopes to keep an eye on the chick and answer visitor questions.
“We’re just excited to see the little chick out and trying to fly and trying to continue on with life. It’s thrilling, we’re really excited about it,” Moisa said.
This chick is the first to be born to breeding pair 409, female, and 523, male. The last two chicks were born to 409 and her past mate, condor 337, before he died of lead poisoning.
“We really have our hopes up with this chick here,” Moisa said.
Park officials are warning visitors not to get too close to the condor if it flies down closer to the road, shuttle stop or trails.
“We had a lot of issues this summer with people getting closer to wildlife and so definitely with the condor chick we want to keep people a very safe distance,” Moisa said. “We just want to give it plenty of space. A sufficient amount of space to let it grow and be curious and learn and mature there.”
The California Condor Recovery Program also released four condors on Saturday at the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.
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