A New Egg on Condor Cam

We look forward to the hatch of yet another endangered California condor!

We look forward to the hatch of yet another endangered California condor!

Another exciting California condor breeding season is upon us. Our third egg of the season was laid on January 22, 2014. The proud parents are last year’s Condor Cam, Sisquoc (pronounced SISS-kwawk) and Shatash (shah-TAHSH). Sisquoc is the male, and he is wearing yellow wing tags (#28). Shatash, the female, is not wearing any wing tags. Also, Sisquoc is visibly larger than Shatash. He is the largest California condor here at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, weighing in at 25 pounds (11.3 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.

Shatash hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo, one of our valuable 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 23rd egg. Seventeen chicks have hatched, and Sisquoc and Shatash have raised six of them themselves, including the last two chicks on Condor Cam: Saticoy, who is flying free in Southern California, and Cuyamaca, who is being prepared for release in Arizona. The other chicks were raised by keepers using 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 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 18, 2014.

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 412 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, 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, Preparing for Condor Breeding Season.

12 Responses to A New Egg on Condor Cam

  1. Hello from Kansas!
    YAY!!! I was not prepared for this news this morning when I clicked the blog! I choked on my coffee! I’m so happy for another season with Sisquoc & Shatash! Thank you for all you do for this lovely creature Condor Team and Mr. Ron Webb! Yes, happy viewing!

  2. Hello from Snowy Kansas!
    Just curious, are the Condors we’re watching on the Cam right now in the pen, Sisquoc & Shatash, and if so, why isn’t she sitting on their egg?

    Monitor’s note: Yes, that is Sisquoc and Shatash’s pen. The blog above explains how often the parents incubate their egg.

  3. Thanks, Ron. This is great news! We get to watch Sisquac and Shatach bring up another little condor. They certainly are great parents. Saticoy and Cuyamaca are perfect examples of their fine parenting. Do they have the real egg or a replacement egg right now?

  4. Wonderful news Ron the new season starts for these great Birds looking forward to all the news

  5. Lovely picture. Back in the nest

  6. Hello from Kansas!
    I see a naked egg! Whoo hoo! It’s really there, not that I didn’t believe you Ron, but it just so exciting to see it for the fist time! Thank you for the cam view!

  7. Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to meet the new Condor. This will be my 3rd egg to see hatch and grow up. Very exciting.

  8. Thank you for the report and new cam. I have watched the condor story since my early years at UCSB in the 1960’s . I have always considered myself lucky to have see wild condors at the Sisquoc Refuge before captivity was required to save them. Condors will never be the same for me as they were then, as I have always been disturbed when captivity is the last resort. In any case I am so very happy that they continue to grace our world, and I have the hope that they will continue to be part of it for many centuries to come. Keep up the good work!

  9. How have the birds faired in the wild? i.e., are the factors that almost led to their extinction still taking a large percentage of those released?

  10. Congrats to Sisquoc and Shatash–AGAIN!! Will be watching them keep this egg nice and warm, then watch the chick hatch out later on. BTW, when do you think this egg will hatch? Got an estimated date yet? You didn’t mention that in your article, so I’m wondering when this egg will hatch out. Keep up the great work that you are doing with these Cal condors!
    Chari Mercier :)
    St. Pete, FL
    PS: Are there anymore eggs that are being laid by the other condor parents? Let us know!