Jutsus it is easy to admire your favourite eight-legged animal by watching the vibrant scenes they present – and the beautiful photographs they inspire. When we walk around a farm, our eyes pick out a condor flapping in the air or a hummingbird dancing with its silk “wings” in search of food. One of the most charismatic and famous creatures in the world, that’s what the condor really is – a small bird with big wings. Now a new study led by scientists from the University of California and Cornell University has revealed that there may be a population of condors – and it may be in the Sacramento Valley. They’ve discovered that some five or six condors have hatched in their nest at an equestrian horse ranch in Washington County, and the hatchlings are doing incredibly well. Admiring figures from the California condor.
The study first came to light three years ago, when the young condors were found three miles away. Now we know that five of them have hatched at the ranch, based on the behaviour of the older five condors that are still there. We can judge by the footage they’ve been making and mating. “Unfortunately, the condors are having a hard time mating because they are young, so we can’t count on that,” says Jenna Burdette, a wildlife ecologist at the University of California. She says that a judge will probably decide at some point in the future whether or not they are breeding condors. Fearing destruction of habitats if the endangered animal is reintroduced to California or other parts of the world, this is a rare opportunity for biologists to examine condors. “We’ve been working with condors since 1939, and for most of that time we’ve spent very little time outside of the Sacramento Valley,” Burdette says. “We were the only big-grained game naturalists in the entire state.” To the first male who laid the eggs at the ranch, the photos, and this experiment, are a “gratifying thought”. But so far, it’s not quite a prize win.
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