Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 4:41 am | Fair 50º


Local News


Santa Barbara Zoo Helps Launch California Condor Live Cams

Organizations partner up to provide livestreaming cameras in condor nests in Big Sur and Ventura County

This nest camera photo from 2013 shows a female with her chick. Even though parents leave the nest for days at a time to forage for food, they always come back to take care of their chick.
This nest camera photo from 2013 shows a female with her chick. Even though parents leave the nest for days at a time to forage for food, they always come back to take care of their chick. (United States Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

Biologists have installed two new nest web cams where scientists and members of the public can watch the nesting process.

The new nesting webcams are at Ventana Wildlife Society Condor Sanctuary in Big Sur and the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, just a few minutes south of Fillmore.

“Webcam viewers can now see condors feeding in the wild and now inside a condor nest,” said Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society. “Viewers will see the parents feeding the chick and can watch it grow and become increasingly more active up to the day the chick fledges from the nest.”

Condor enthusiasts can also follow the lives of individual condors by getting to know them at and watching them on the cams over them, Sorenson said. 

The nest webcams went live Wednesday and now people around the world have the unprecedented opportunity to observe nesting California condors and their young chicks in real time.

The webcam also allows biologists to monitor the nesting process. Scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came up with the idea in 2010 after a remote California condor nest failed due to an injured chick.

“What started out as a way for biologists to monitor the health of endangered California condor chicks and the breeding success of the species has become an important tool for outreach about this incredibly rare bird,” said Joseph Brandt, a USFWS biologist.

The two live-streamed nests from Ventura and Monterey counties are two of 11 nests that are still currently active.

A webcam showing the Big Sur condors depicts a young condor eating an animal carcass. Click to view larger
A webcam showing the Big Sur condors depicts a young condor eating an animal carcass.  (Webcam footage photo)

Biologists and staff from the Wildlife Service, Santa Barbara Zoo and Ventana Wildlife Society hiked heavy camera equipment on foot along deep canyons and steep ridgelines to install the cameras.

“Many people are aware of our conservation work at Santa Barbara Zoo, but our team also works in the field alongside (Fish and Wildlife) Service biologists to help train volunteer nest observers and monitor wild California condor nests, making sure eggs and chicks are healthy during the nesting season,” said Estelle Sandhaus, director of conservation programs for the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

The webcams are part of a decades-long effort to save the condor from extinction. About 430 condors exist in the wild. In 1982, the condor population had dropped to 22. 

In 1992, the Wildlife Service began reintroducing captive-bred condors into the wild. 

“Seeing these huge birds raise their young in the wild is unforgettable,” said Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams Project Leader with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which hosts the livestream webcam of the nest in Ventura County.

“Their success in raising their chicks is critical in the effort to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.” 

To visit the Big Sur web cam, click here.

To visit the Ventura County web cam, click here.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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