Wednesday, July 13, 2022

UPDATE: ‘We are on A1’s Time’: Another Release Try is Set for Today

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2022 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge The three free-flying California condors sit on top of the enclosure today with A1 and the mentor bird inside. - SCREENSHOT OF THE LIVE STREAM
  • Screenshot of the live stream
  • The three free-flying California condors sit on top of the enclosure today with A1 and the mentor bird inside.


Another release attempt is now scheduled for Thursday, with monitoring starting around 5 a.m.


As of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, A1 was still in the enclosure overlooking perched on the edge of a rolling prairie in Redwood State and National Parks.

According to a post from the Northern California Condor Restoration Program around 6 a.m., other release sites have had similar circumstances with birds “not comfortable to leave the trap on day one,” noting most birds take off before the cutoff time on the second attempt.

“A1 has entered the trap area and been hand captured. He has never entered the trap area and had it lead to the open environment, so it is unlikely he is avoiding the trap to avoid being released,” the post states. “He fed early yesterday and then all social activity occurred at the opposite end of the pen from the release trap. Likely just happenstance. Today, he also fed prior to us getting set up for release, so a repeat of yesterday is possible. Hopefully, the free-flying birds will get social on the trap end and A1 will be more active on that end of the pen.”


For whatever reason, the California condor known as A1 just didn’t seem to be in a wild mood on Tuesday.

Biologists with the Northern California Condor Restoration Program — a Yurok Tribe-led effort to return the endangered species to the region after more than a century's absence — were prepped and ready just after 8 a.m. to let the young male out to join three other juveniles currently flying free over Humboldt County skies.

Then, the hours ticked by and ticked by and ticked by.

Just around 3 p.m., the program called it a day to ensure A1 has enough daylight on his first flight. The process will begin again Wednesday around 6 a.m.

As in the previous releases, carrion was set in a side cage to lure A1 into the area where access to main enclosure can be shut off and another gate to the outdoors is opened, allowing the bird to choose whether to venture on.

For whatever reason, A1 seemed more inclined to preen and sun and hang out with No. 746, an adult male condor who was brought in to teach the younger birds important life skills that they’ll need to survive on the outside and the intricacies of the condor hierarchical social system.

click to enlarge A1, left, sits with mentor bird No. 746 today, seemingly not interest in making his out-of-enclosure debut. - SCREENSHOT YUROK CONDOR LIVE FEED
  • Screenshot Yurok Condor Live Feed
  • A1, left, sits with mentor bird No. 746 today, seemingly not interest in making his out-of-enclosure debut.

Even with the others — A2 and A3, who went first in early May, and A0 who followed a few weeks later — hanging out around the release site, including roosting right on top of the enclosure, A1 apparently decided Tuesday was not the day.

One of the NCCP representatives noted around 11 a.m. that the “release process will take as long as A1 needs it to take.”

“If it doesn't happen today, perhaps tomorrow, or the next day,” the post on the live feed states. “To make this as easy a transition to the wild as possible, we are on A1's time."

Read more about the Yurok Tribe's effort to return the endangered bird they know as prey-go-neesh to the northern reaches of its once vast territory here. (Just a note, when the story went to print A0 — the cohort’s sole female — had been on a long sojourn but she has since safely returned to management and release site.)

Tomorrow’s anticipated release can be viewed live via the Yurok Condor Cam, which can be found here:

Another cohort of young condors is expected to arrive on the North Coast in late summer or early fall, a process that will continue each year for at least the next two decades, with the ultimate goal of building a self-sustaining condor population in the region that will eventually spread to the Pacific Northwest.

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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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