|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
daily activities of the condors, provide carcasses for food, radio track the birds’ movements, and capture any unhealthy birds (if necessary) for medical treatment. A big job, to say the least. captivity. Their goals are simple in concept: 1. to maintain the maximum survivability possible for the released birds, 2. to encourage natural forage behavior and suspend supplemental feedin, 3. when reaching sexual maturity at age 6+ years, these condors will pair, breed and 12, 1996, six condors raise young. Finally, after endless discussions, public forums, permitting, and meetings, on December were released from their cages high atop the Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit had the on-hand crowd counting down out loud like Mission Control at Cape Canaveral. Though the birds didn’t exactly leap from the cages and into the clear Arizona sky, they did manage to hop around on the ledges, check out their new digs, then enthrall the crowd with some short flights. Like baby steps, each one was greeted with enthusiasm and excitement. In her article "Condor Release” in the November/December 1997 issue of Bird Watchers Digest, author Betsy McKellar wrote, "The national press was there in force. In fact, it looked to me as if there were more photographers than had attended the President's signing of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument declaration at the Grand Canyon just a few months ago. Manuel Mollinedo, The Director of the Los Angeles Zoo, called it ‘this millennium’s preeminent conservation project.’ I think most of us on the bus just wanted to see a condor." Spoken like a true birder. No small task. Of course, agencies and the Peregrine Fund are looking long term-— twenty years down the road. The success of the peregrine falcon’s recovery encourages those involved that these three goals can be attained through constant vigilance and protection. To consider the condor’s plight as a simple lesson of natural selection is absurd. We humans are responsible for one of the major extinction periods in the history of the Earth. We have a responsibility as stewards of this planet to insure protection for all species—-a responsibility we often fail at. With the Condor Recovery Program in place, at least we have a second chance to right past wrongs. Damian Fagan is a freelance writer and bird watcher who lives in Moab, Utah. He spends most of his time observing threatened and endangered birds in the canyon country. The six juvenile birds were six to seven months old. All had been raised in captivity and each one had a recorded lineage. One male bird, #49, was the oldest of the group. Hatched in the Los Angeles Zoo, the bird was fathered by AC-9, the last free flying condor that was captured from the wild. His mother, Squapuni, was brought in from the wild in 1984 as an egg and hatched in the San Diego Zoo. She was one of the original birds to start the captive breeding program, alas she has never known the freedom of the wild. In 1997, thirteen more condors were released at the Vermilion Cliffs. Another eight birds were released at the Hurricane Cliffs near the Grand Canyon on November, 18, 1998 in an effort to establish a second sub-population. With five fatalities in the last two years, one to a golden eagle when the condor refused to back down to the more aggressive species, things are looking up for Arizona’s condors. Of course, constant monitoring by the Peregrine Fund's crews helps. A Visit to Moab Perhaps it was #49’s father’s lineage, his longing for the wildness, that sent him. Perhaps it was a wild hair--- investigative curiosity is a trademark of these birds. For whatever reason, #49 decided to take a cruise up the Colorado River. On July 6, 1998, Vicki Maretsy, an ex-condor biologist from California, was leaving Arches National Park. She noticed a large, familiar-looking bird perched across from the park’s entrance station. Number 49. She notified the Park Service and the word spread like wildfire on a windy day. Unfortunately for #49, a pair of nearby golden eagles turned on their territorial defense system and grounded the condor. Literally. I had the good fortune, along with several other members of the Moab Bird Club, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, to witness this condor-eagle interaction. The eagles, who were no longer the biggest dog in the sky, tucked their wings and went into Stuka dives after the condor. Unable to gain altitude or attitude, the condor circled and looked for a place to hide. Eventually, the condor came in low, snuck behind some junipers and landed in the safe confines of a large boulder. So much for a wild hair! Shawn Farry, from the Peregrine Fund field crew, arrived in Moab to locate and observe the interactions of the condor and eagle. Equipped with radio telemetry gear, Shawn could tune into the signal from the condor’s wing transmitter. Unfortunately for Shawn, the bird left the area and the signal was lost. He searched the area for two days with no success. Shawn returned to the Vermilion Cliffs release site on July 8, but the condor had beaten him home. By the next morning, #49’s signal was loud and clear atop the Vermilion Cliffs, about 200 miles away from Moab. Other positive condor sightings have occurred at Flaming Gorge, near Vernal, and on Grand Mesa outside of Grand Junction, Colorado—-signs that these condors can move about. Today, there are 58 condors out there in the wilds of California, Utah and Arizona, and another 93 in captivity. Perhaps someday the two separate condor populations in California and Arizona may For more information on condors, check the Peregrine Fund's website at www.peregrine-fund.org. The Arizona Game & Fish Department, 2221 W. Greenway Rd., Phoenix, AZ 86023-4399, 602.789.3501 also publishes a California Condor Project update. Contact them to be included on their mailing list. How to ID a Condor 101 How to identify a condor in the wild. The easiest way, jokes this biologist, is to read its numbered wing tag. No kidding. Each bird in the wild has two, one-ounce wing tags located on the forward edge of their wings. If you want more identifying marks, these birds are huge, 16 to 24 pounds, and have a wingspan that can reach almost ten feet. Like turkey vultures, condors are two-toned on the under side of their wings: light gray on the forward edge and black on the trailing edge. This pattern is opposite of turkey vultures. Similar to the turkey vultures, the juvenile condor’s head coloration changes from grayish to adult pinkish-red. However, condor heads are much larger and more bulbous in appearance. This one field mark has me convinced that a pictograph in Canyonlands National Park is that of a condor. Condors, like birds of prey, have excellent eyesight. Condors use their vision to locate carcasses, or more importantly, to seek out flocks of ravens, magpies or golden eagles that may indicate a nearby carcass. If you do spot a condor, call your local Bureau of Land Management Office. You can also check out the condors on the internet at www.peregrinefund.org. HIGH DESERT DIGITAL Creator and Sponsor of Virtual Moab, The Canyonlands Area Information Index Visit our web site: virtual.moab.ut.us Will take your business beyond ordinary web sites. Offering 3D Animation, Digital Video, Real Audio and Secure Commerce Servers for Online Transactions. We specialize in design, management, and hosting of web sites. For a list of sites created by High Desert Digital Pte call us at: 435-259-7062 or email us at: t ds.com J have a close encounter of the winged kind. Recovery Program’s Target The target of the Recovery Program is to have 300 free-living condors separated between the two geographical populations. The agency also hopes to maintain 150 birds in TWO DECADES... It was twenty years ago that Glenn Victor purchased a ramshackle old home known locally as The Ranch House. Glenn had a dream to restore the dilapidated old building to its former splendor. With painstaking care and with all the craftsmanship and talent the Ranch House deserved, Glenn put his life into this project. Today the home is on the National Register of Historic Homes and The Grand Old Ranch House is known and respected as one of the finest restaurants in southern Utah. Be a part of history...Please share the experience with us. Glenn & Katie Victor The "Ranch House" as it appeared in 1978, before restoration work began.