BOISE, Idaho - The first California condor chicks of the season hatched in March at the World Center for Birds of Prey, home to the world's largest captive flock.
Since February, 17 adult pairs have produced 21 eggs in the captive flock. The breeding program is expected to produce as many as 20 young birds for release to the wild in Arizona, California, and Baja Mexico.
"This is our busiest time of the year as the eggs all begin to hatch," said Marti Jenkins, who oversees The Peregrine Fund's condor propagation program. "It's also very exciting because it means we have another group of birds that will enable us to one day remove condors from the Endangered Species List."
Two weeks after the eggs were laid, the fertile ones were artificially incubated until right before hatching begins. The eggs are then returned to its parents who watch over the egg as the chick chips its way out of the shell.
"Every egg and chick is precious when you are dealing with an endangered species, so we don't want to take any chances that something will happen to the egg during the two month incubation period," Jenkins said.
For about a year, chicks are nurtured by their parents before they can be released to the wild.
The Peregrine Fund's release site is located at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument near the Grand Canyon. After the birds are released, the field staff monitors their movements with satellite tracking equipment and comes to their aid if the birds are sick, injured or exhibiting behaviors that present a danger from predators or people.