New Egg for Condors Sisquoc and Shatash

A condor flies to its nest box in the Safari Park's "Condorminium" complex.

A condor flies to its nest box in the Safari Park’s “Condorminium” complex.

Welcome back to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Condor Cam! The Condor Cam provides a rare look inside an active California condor nest. Over the next seven months, you will be able to witness incubation behavior, the hatch of a chick, its growth, and its eventual fledge (leaving of the nest). Another exciting California condor breeding season is upon us. Our third egg of the season was laid on January 27, 2013. The proud parents are last year’s Condor Cam stars Sisquoc (pronounced “SISS-kwawk”) and Shatash (pronounced “shah-TAHSH”). Sisquoc is the male, and he is wearing yellow wing tags (#28). Shatash, the female, is not wearing any wingtags. Also, Sisquoc is visibly larger than Shatash. He is the largest condor here at the Park, weighing in at 25 pounds (11 kilograms).

Sisquoc was the first California condor ever hatched in a zoo (his egg was laid in the wild and brought to the San Diego Zoo for incubation). He emerged from his shell on March 30, 1983, and news of his hatching triggered an outpouring of mail from all over the world. Congratulatory letters were sent by conservationists, zoos, governments, school classrooms, and many individuals, all wanting to help with the condor project. And look at him now—time flies, doesn’t it?

Shatash hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo, one of our partners in the California Condor Recovery Program. Her father was the first condor to hatch at the Safari Park (again, from a wild-laid egg), back in 1985. Sisquoc and Shatash have been paired together since 1993. This is their 22nd egg. Sixteen chicks have hatched, and Sisquoc and Shatash have raised five of them themselves, including last year’s Condor Cam chick, named Saticoy. The other chicks were raised by keepers who used a condor puppet so the chicks wouldn’t imprint on their human caretakers. Sisquoc and Shatash have proven to be great and reliable parents.

California condors tend to be monogamous and share ALL nest duties: incubating the egg, brooding the chick, feeding the chick, and defending the nest. Throughout incubation you will see Sisquoc and Shatash take turns sitting on the egg to keep it warm. You may see them roll or turn the egg periodically. This gentle egg movement is crucial for the development of the growing embryo. Incubation bouts can be very short—just a few minutes—or birds can sit for two or three days, so don’t be alarmed! Sometimes the parents will sit together in the nest. Condor eggs incubate at about 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius). Condors have a long incubation period; we are expecting the egg to “pip,” or start hatching, after 55 days of incubation, around March 23, 2013.

Sisquoc and Shatash’s new egg is very valuable to the condor population. California condors are critically endangered. In 1982, they were on the road to extinction, with only 22 birds in the world. Today, through breeding programs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Oregon Zoo, and the World Center for Birds of Prey (in Boise, Idaho), as well as intensive field management in the wild, the population is up to 404 birds. It’s a nice population increase, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. This egg, and eventual chick, represents the next step in the California condor story – and you get to witness it on Condor Cam!

Stay tuned for future blogs with egg updates. If you have any questions about what you’re seeing, feel free to ask them in the “Comments” section at the end of this post, and we’ll do our best to provide answers. Happy viewing!

Ron Webb is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read his previous post, Saticoy’s Siblings.

20 Responses to New Egg for Condors Sisquoc and Shatash

  1. congrats! that is great news. looking forward to the condor fledgling.

    • forgot to ask, if the new egg is fertilized, do you have an expected date range when it would hatch? thanks.

      Moderator’s note: Around March 23, 2013.

      • thanks and oops. the date was in the original blog. I read it and forgot the date. then I reread the blog but went too quickly to catch the date. someone in the zoo side of the blog commented the date as well. (sigh) my memory is going.

  2. Thanks so much for the opportunity to watch this whole process. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it last year.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. YAY!!!!!
    Last year I fell absolutely in love with Condor Cam, and am SO happy to know that another precious chick may be in
    the future. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of a most amazing adventure!

  4. I’m new to this site,the Condors are soooo beautiful!! I read the egg was taken and replaced by a fake one,was the real one put back?

    Moderator’s note: When it starts to pip, the real one will replace the artificial egg in the parents’ nest box.

  5. So exciting to be able to watch this again! Are you planning to return the egg to the parents? What if its not fertile?

    Moderator’s note: Yes, the real egg will be returned to the parents when it starts to pip. If the egg is not fertile, staff would pull the artificial egg to encourage the parents to lay another one.

  6. Congrats to Sisquoc and Shatash on laying their first new egg! Keep us informed and updated on the egg, ok? And, send us pictures of you doing the candling process of the egg so that we can see the results for ourselves. That will be interesting!
    Chari Mercier :)
    St. Pete, FL

  7. Thank you for providing another opportunity to see a chick hatch and grow. You are working a miracle to help preserve the Condors for my grandchildren and great-graandchildren. One of my grandsons and I had the privilege of seeing condors flying (soaring) free south of Big Sur four years ago. How exciting!!

  8. Where will the baby live once s/he has left the nest? Will it stay at the zoo?

    Moderator’s note: The chick will live with Mom and Dad until after fledging. We’ll have to wait to see if it might become a candidate for release into the wild.

  9. We’re ecstatic about the arrival of the new EGG! We are watching everyday for news of the hatching. Congratulations are in store for you and your team of birds! Way to go!!!”

    Best Regards,

    Jen and Satu
    San Diego, Ca

  10. Congrats!!
    How many eggs it is now in the condorminium?

    Moderator’s note: Four have been laid so far.

  11. Hello from a concerned Kansas!
    I watched the hockey game in Bakersfield where the condor was trying to get away or something, is that the same species of condor that is endangered? I noticed it had a white collar of feathers around it’s neck and the species that you and your crew are conserving has black feathers around it’s neck. Was really concerned for the poor bird, I didn’t think it was being handled properly. Thank you in advance for your answer! Have a great day.

    Moderator’s note: That was an Andean condor.

    • Thank you for your reply, and I just read about the news about the new National Park being named! Pinnacles National Park in California, the news article talked about the condors nesting there! Thank you for your wonderful work!

  12. How close to pipping is the egg? Great work you do there.

    Moderator’s note: Per Ron’s post, “we are expecting the egg to ‘pip,’ or start hatching, after 55 days of incubation, around March 23, 2013.

  13. So exciting. Last year was the first I watched with Saticoy so I am really looking forward to this year. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work. :)

  14. It’s just wonderful that we will get to watch Sisquoc and Shatash bring up another new baby because they are wonderful parents. I just noticed that Sisquoc is about to turn thirty, according to the information on this site. He was hatched on March 30, 1983, right there at the San Diego Zoo. Is this considered old for a condor? Thank you for providing this cam and all the information about these precious birds.

    Moderator’s note: According to our California Condor info page, condors can live to be 60.

  15. Hi! I have a couple of questions for you to answer. Do you have any idea of when Shatash’s egg will begin to start the hatching process? I think that it’s been close to 30 days since she laid the egg, so I’m just wondering if you have a hatching date yet. And, is the egg viable and fertile after checking the egg thru the candling process? I sure do hope so! Waiting for this egg to hatch!!
    Let us know what’s going on with that egg, ok? We are sooooo curious and excited about seeing a new condor chick for us to watch on the condorcam again!
    Thanks,
    Chari Mercier :)
    St. Pete, FL

    Moderator’s note: Per Ron’s post, “we are expecting the egg to ‘pip,’ or start hatching, after 55 days of incubation, around March 23, 2013. It is a fertile egg.

    • Thanks, Moderator, for that great info! I’ve got that March date written down, and I am SOOOOO GLAD that Shatash’s egg is fertile! Now we will have some more fun watching that egg hatch and seeing this new chick grow and develop over the next few months! Ma and Pa Condor did good!!
      Chari Mercier :)
      St. Pete, FL

  16. If it is a fertile egg why not return it to the parents?

    Ron Webb responds: We prefer to artificially incubate all of the eggs now so we can more closely monitor their progress. If an egg needs some help, we can be of more assistance if the egg is not under some very large and protective parents. Usually, the parents do a great job with their own eggs, but we are just trying to eliminate any X-factors.