Webcam gives up-close look at a baby California condor

The Condor Cam shows a two-month-old California condor chick spreading its wings in this June 7, 2018, screenshot.
The Condor Cam shows a two-month-old California condor chick spreading its wings in this June 7, 2018, screenshot. Screenshot

This is the closest you will probably ever get to a baby California condor: A live webcam of a condor nest in Los Padres National Forest.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology set up a camera at one of the 12 California condor nests "in the mountains of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties," according to a news release, the highest number of nests ever recorded in Southern California.

Wild condors can also be found nesting in the mountains of Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito and San Luis Obispo counties.

The livestream shows the cliffside nest of two-month-old Condor Chick No. 923; its 16-year-old mother, Condor No. 289, and its 13-year-old father, Condor No. 374, located in Hutton's Bowl near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County.

It's the first time the pair has been featured on the Cornell Lab's California Condor Cam and "the pair's first attempt at raising a chick together, though both previously nested with other condors in the past," the lab said.

The Condor Cam has been live at the Hopper Mountain refuge since 2015, receiving nearly 2 million views from more than 190 countries.

"Until now, only a handful of biologists had the privilege to observe wild condor nests. They had to trek into the remote back country and wait for days, sometimes weeks, at observation blinds located hundreds of feet from the nests to catch a glimpse of the birds," said Estelle Sandhaus, director of conservation and research at the Santa Barbara Zoo, one of the entities behind the partnership that makes the livestream happen.

Condors are endangered.

Wild California condors can be found nesting in the mountains of Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Chris Parish Peregrine Fund

In 1982, only 22 birds remained in the wild. Today, there are an estimated 470 California condors, "with more than half of the population flying free," according to Cornell Lab.

However, the birds' existence is threatened by both lead poisoning — caused by feeding on carcasses with lead bullet fragments — and "micro trash," such as "nuts, bolts, washers, copper wire, plastic, bottle caps, glass and spent ammunition cartridge" that the birds collect and feed to their chicks, the lab said.

"Many biologists believe that the condor parents mistake these items for pieces of bone and shell, which provide a source of calcium if fed to the chick," according to Cornell Lab.

Watch live webcam video of the California baby condor at www.allaboutbirds.org/condors.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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