Condor Saticoy at Release Site

Condors Nechuwa, Sukilamu, and Saticoy take in the view.

Saticoy (far right) and his fellows are acclimating to their new home in the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Some of our devoted condor fans have been asking about Saticoy, the California condor chick who hatched and was raised by his parents while on the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Condor Cam last year. For those who are new to Condor Cam, Saticoy is the older sibling to this year’s chick, Cuyamaca.

On April 11, Saticoy was transported to his release site with two other condors who hatched at the Safari Park last year, Nechuwa and Sukilamu. These three young males are being housed in the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in a flight pen with a wonderful view of the quiet, wide-open spaces of the Refuge. Beautiful wildflowers growing all over the grassy, rolling hills lead to the canyons and mountains that provide prime condor nesting habitat. The Refuge is located just north of Santa Barbara in southern California’s Kern County.

The flight pen is visited by curious condor neighbors.

The flight pen acts as a hacking site, or a place where the young birds become familiar with their surroundings before they are released to the wild. They can acclimatize to the weather and wind. Also, there are 66 other condors flying free in this region, and many of them frequent the hillside where the flight pen is located. This allows the resident condors to meet the new, young release candidates; when the young birds are released, they won’t be complete strangers to the free-flying condors. When we put Saticoy (wearing wing tag #36), Nechuwa (wing tag #37), and Sukilamu (wing tag #43) in the flight pen, four wild condors were already watching from the outside, curious about their new neighbors.

Saticoy and his pen mates will stay in the flight pen through the summer. If all goes well, the field biologists will release them to the wild sometime in September, about 18 months after Saticoy’s hatch. As you can see, California condor development is a long and involved process!

Ron Webb is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read his previous post, Condor Chick: 1st Exam.

39 Responses to Condor Saticoy at Release Site

  1. Superb post, Ron: thank you. It is great to follow the onward journey of the young release condors, especially having watched Saticoy enter the world on Condor Cam! Let’s hope that, once released, he manages to stay free from lead and avoids the other usual dangers to young condors’ successful integration into the wild population.

  2. Congrats and good luck to Saticoy, Nechuwa, and Sukilamu on their future release into the California mountains in September. I’m sure that the other condors in the area will accept him and the other 2 condors into their family real quick once they are flying free around the area. You said that this flight pen is north of Santa Barbara, so I am kind of concerned about that location due to the wildfires that’s been going on in Santa Barbara County. Hope every person and condor are safe and pretty far out from the fires. Keep us updated on how Saticoy, Nechuwa, and Sukilamu are doing!
    Chari Mercier :)
    St. Pete, FL

  3. That’s great. Thank you for the update on Saticoy!

  4. So great to hear about our “little” boy, Saticoy and his future life. I’m more concerned about hunters using lead bullets than wildfires. Many condors die from eating animals killed with lead bullets.

  5. Good to know. Best of luck to Saticoy and his buddies!

  6. What wonderful news. I am amazed at how quickly they grow up you all do a great job .looking after these beautiful birds.

  7. Thank you, Ron, for that great post on Saticoy and his friends. I had been wondering, so it’s a relief to get that report. He grew up SO fast. I love seeing the pic of the flight pen where he will be released. Feeling a bit protective (like a mom), I’m kinda nervous and apprehensive about him leaving. But, like with my own sons, I know he has to go. So it’s also a bit exciting that he is going to be free. I wish him and his mates the best luck. They will be in my prayers always.

    Thank you again for your diligence in keeping us updated. I appreciate you and the team very much.
    Peace, Jo’el~}

  8. Thanks for the update and pic of Saticoy! He is all grown up now and ready for his new adventure. I wish him and the others the best of luck in the wild.

  9. Great post, as always! I’ve learned a lot about the California condors and hope Saticoy and his new “pen-pals” adjust to their new home. These are magnificent birds and helping them live restores some of the lost grandeur of human life.

  10. Hello from Wellington Kansas!
    Thank you for the update on Saticoy, may he and his buddies be free to bring more of these beautiful creatures into the world. Yes, I too, hope they stay safe from us humans with our bullets and fires! Thank you again for all that you do.

  11. Thank you for the news on Saticoy, I think of him often and actually got choked up with pride and joy seeing his picture and reading how well he’s doing and the future plans for him. What a beautiful place he will live in, I had to laugh seeing the condors outside the pen with their curiosity. Especially the one sitting at the top of the pen looking in, in human terms it looks like a new dating site, ahhh, perhaps new mates, which one do I like it’s saying! ( I hope it’s that non aggressive!). I’ll be so thrilled when Saticoy has a chick, flying free has got to be a thrill. It has been a lot of work and a long haul for you Ron and the other humans there, but oh so worth it. Fly free my dear Saticoy, what a glorious life you have ben given!

    • Loved your post. I have the same sentiments for these beautiful birds.

    • Sheryl, you wrote exactly what I’ve thinking. I feel like a proud parent, that our baby Saticoy will soon be one of the wild condors flying free. Perhaps one of the condors looking in has her heart see on Saticoy as her future mate.

  12. thanks for sharing the update. glad to hear Saticoy is doing well and on his way to release.

  13. thank you so very much for the update on sweet Saticoy. I feel more closure knowing where he’s at and where he’ll be as a young adult. I too feel reticent about his release given the obstacles due to man he has to face however, will keep him in my prayers for a long healthy life. Thank you again.

  14. Good for our Saticoy!!

  15. Re: Bear Valley Springs. Can Condor behaviorists, biologists, zoo staff and trainers be sent to work on a solution (quickly), before the citizens resort to their own destructive solutions?

    Condor Team responds: From time to time, California condors have visited human structures. This is not a preferred behavior, and field biologists try to discourage it.

    • Well.. I just read this news story: John McCamman of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife says about half of the Southern California population is visiting Bear Valley Springs for the summer. “When the birds are causing damage to people’s property, we try to harass them without harming them,” McCamman said. “We are trying to get them to move along.” “We are having a community meeting to brainstorm potential solutions for the problem,” McCamman said. “We are trying to get them to avoid doing things that attract the birds, like not leave puddles of water behind, or leaving food out that they like.” “We are concerned about the negative impact this has on the people,” McCamman said. “Our goal is for coexistence.”

      I hope they have the expertise to implement a good solution for the birds!

  16. The interaction between mom and baby were so cute today but you know who is the boss . Mom put Cuyamaca In his /her place. Love watching them.

  17. Thanks again, Ron and staff, for all your caring and for the news. It is a pleasure to have another year of following our condors.

  18. hi, Poor Cuyamaca. She (am convinced its a she) is getting all her feathers pulled out by Mom and she looks very funny. She also looks very unhappy – must hurt. But necessary for her next steps!

    • Hi Sandy, I’m also pretty sure that Cuyamaca is a girl.

      Keepers, when will we find out? Also thank you so much for what you do for the condors. It was thrilling to see the wild born chick in Mexico. Also thrilling to see Saticoy again out there almost in the wild.

  19. What a wonderful program! Great Article!

    Cuyamaca is getting so big & still so cute

  20. Has Cuyamaca hopped the ledge yet? I missed it when Saticoy did for the first time.

  21. Cuyamaca is doing amazing he she is growing very fast . How much food are the parents giving Cuyamaca a day.havin g never watched a conder before , they grow very fast. I just love watching Cuyamaca.

  22. Has Cuyamaca’s sex been announced yet? I keep watching for news, but have seen nothing.

    • I don’t think they’ve announced it yet. It seems like a long time since the exam. I hope they tell us soon.

      • I’m eager to hear too, Poppy!

  23. If Cuyamaca gets on the ledge is he she safe there?

  24. Papa is still feeding Cuyamaca. What good parents!

  25. Hi,
    Can you imagine the already released Condors sitting on top of the fenced area saying…….when you gettin’ out? ;D

  26. It looks like the baby chick wants to celebrate Independence Day too !! He’s flapping as hard as he can !!

  27. It looks like the baby Condor is a little weak or hungry, and perhaps not able to fly up on the ledge and join his parents.
    Could someone tell me when the baby will be able to do that?

    Monitor’s note: Gloria, you might enjoying reading a post about the previous condor chick at around this age: Condor Chick: Preparing to Fledge.

    • As I recall it took Saticoy many, many failed leaps with wings flapping before he got up to the ledge. He fell down hard a few times and looked so discouraged. So far I haven’t seen Cuyamaca even try to get up to the ledge. He/she peeks over the top a lot. Has anyone else seen Cuyamaca try to fly yet?

  28. Wow! Cuyamaca almost made it up! I’ll bet today is the day!

    • Cecelia, I’m sorry, I didn’t see your post before I wrote mine. Maybe he/she will try it again soon.

  29. Cuyamaca was a bit aggressive with Mommy. Certainly growing

  30. Hi, all. I’ve been waiting & wondering & searching all over the site, but can’t find any mention of Cuyamaca’s sex. Has it been announced yet? It seems like it’s been a long time since that first exam. Cuyamaca is growing so fast. Lookin’ good!!
    Please give us an update soon, please? Thank you.

    • Same question here, Joel!