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Ensuring Excellence in
Education, Resource Stewardship, and Visitor Experiences at

Pinnacles National Park

Photos Courtesy Gavin Emmons, 


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2017 Condor Nest Update

It’s an exciting time in the condor world- there is one nest in Pinnacles this year, and the chick hatched in May! The chick, condor number 878, was identified as a female during the latest health checkup and appears to be doing well.  Condors are some of the most dedicated parents in the animal world- it takes about a year and a half for parents to successfully raise one chick!

Number 878 is shown here in the nest with her mother, condor number 569. Photo:NPS/A. Welch

Both of the parents were raised in captivity; the father, condor number 589, was released from Pinnacles in 2011. The mother is managed by Ventana Wildlife Society and was released in Big Sur in 2012. This chick is their first offspring, and the new parents seem to have adjusted to parenthood well! A nest cam has now been installed to monitor the new families activity. See the first video clip from the nest below.

The chick will be outfitted with its very own tag when it is about four months old. Sometime in October, be on the lookout- hopefully you’ll be able to see her taking her first flights around Pinnacles!



California condor chick takes flight over Pinnacles, first in 100 years

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PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK, Calif (June 14, 2016) – Condor chick 828 in her nest at 60 days of age. NPS Photo by G. Emmons

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PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK, Calif (June 14, 2016) – Pinnacles National Park Condor #340 in the nest with his daughter, 828. NPS Photo by G. Emmons

Make a $100 gift today in honor of condor chick #828! 



PAICINES, Calif. – An endangered female California condor chick took flight from a nest this week in Pinnacles National Park for the first time in more than 100 years. The historic flight was under close watch of her parents, both of whom were released into the wild through a partnership between the National Park Service and Ventana Wildlife Society.


Volunteers and staff have been observing the nest, found in a remote location in the Park, since her parents started incubating the egg in February. The five-and-a-half month old chick, known as condor #828, captured the attention of park biologists when she left the nest one month earlier than expected. 


“Condors nesting in the wild and surviving on their own is what it’s all about and this is yet another milestone towards that goal,” said Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society, which first initiated condor releases in central California in 1997.The federal government and conservation groups have dedicated considerable resources to the restoration of the condor population that was brought to the brink of extinction in the 1980’s.


 “The young condor’s flight from the nest gives us a strong sense of hope,” said Karen Beppler-Dorn, superintendent of Pinnacles National Park. “However, our hope is tempered by the challenges that still exist for her and all wild condors.”


Lead poisoning continues to hinder recovery of this iconic species that so many people across the west have learned about and followed since the 1980s, when California condors nearly went extinct. With leadership from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, over thirty organizations and agencies have been committed to saving the species. Condors become ill and die when they inadvertently ingest fragments of lead ammunition in carcasses they feed upon that are left over from hunting or ranching operations. “Condors and other scavenging wildlife, such as eagles, benefit from carcass remains left behind if non-lead ammunition is used. Hunters and ranchers have a long-standing tradition of wildlife conservation,” said Karen Beppler-Dorn. “Shooters who have switched to non-lead ammunition have made an invaluable contribution to the health of all scavenging wildlife,” said Kelly Sorenson.    


With continuing threats to their survival and recovery, volunteers with Pinnacles National Park’s Condor Program and Pinnacles Partnership–the Park’s non-profit Friends Group–help monitor condors, including watching the nest in the Park. Their dedication represents their passion for nature and commitment as stewards to the National Park Service.


 “Volunteers contribute so much to monitoring and protecting wildlife in the Park, particularly the condors. They are some of the most committed people I have ever had the pleasure to work with” says Jenn Westphal, executive director of Pinnacles Partnership.


This nest showcases the successful collaboration between the National Park Service and the Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS). Female condor #236 was first released from VWS’s Big Sur site and male condor #340 was released from the Park. Now that their chick has left the nest, she will remain close to her parents as she learns where to go to forage for food and how to interact with over 85 other condors in central California. The nest success at Pinnacles is being celebrated the same year as the National Park Service’s Centennial and 100 years of stewardship and preservation. 



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 In summer 2015, a condor who ranges with >70 other wild birds in the central California area (between Pinnacles National Park and the Big Sur Coast) decided to take a long, exploratory flight out of his typical range. 

Leaving the central CA home range behind, he traveled as far as Santa Barbara and Kern Counties to the south, and then east to the Sierras. His flight took him through the range of condors that use southern California, and all the way to the Mt Whitney area, in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. 

His flight reminds us that condors inhabited range throughout the western US and as the small wild population of under 300 total birds continues to grow, so will the area they use. Fortunately, Condor 564 wears a GPS unit on one of his wing tags. Without the GPS collecting this data we would never have known of his long range flight. 

GPS tags are incredibly useful in detecting unusual locations and behavior when traditional methods of observation or radio-tracking aren't possible. Although expensive, the value of learning about exploratory movements and watching condors travel across their historical range is more than worth it.


Your donation to the Pinnacles Condor Fund  can help the Pinnacles Condor Program meet their goal of outfitting half of the Pinnacles free flying flock of California condors
with GPS units.  

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GPS track of Condor 564, summer 2015. Map: Jennie Jones, NPS

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