Eight young California condors arrived at Vermilion Cliffs Saturday and when released will increase the Arizona population of the endangered birds to 41.
All eight condors were hatched last year at the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey. They will be released in small groups after an acclimation period of at least six to eight weeks.
"We are expecting a very good year," said William A. Burnham, Peregrine Fund president. "In addition to these eight young condors, there are three pairs from previous releases that are investigating caves in preparation for probable breeding."
On Saturday, a plane funded by the Bureau of Land Management picked up the eight condors from the center in Boise, Idaho, and transported them to Page. Biologists then finished their journey by transporting them to the release aviary atop Vermilion Cliffs.
"The continued success of the California condor program reflects the hard work and cooperation among a number of private and governmental partners," said Roger Taylor, BLM Arizona Strip field manager.
"We’re glad we can help by transporting the condors by airplane to Page and by truck to the aviary at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument," he added.
Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Joe Alston always welcomes new condors.
"Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park continue to be delighted by the sight of condors soaring near the rim," Alston said. "Condors from previous releases have nested three times ... which has provided an exceptional opportunity for expanding public awareness regarding conservation of rare species while adding to the overall experience for the visitors."
Alston added that although the condors have not yet fledged any young, there’s hope that as the adults become more experienced, they will become more successful at raising young and establishing a self-sustaining population.
The condor reintroduction is a joint project involving several organizations and governmental agencies.