CONDORS-Learning to Fly

Only a few years ago, the California Condor was nearly extinct — its population down to as few as fifteen birds. But thanks to a captive breeding program, the condor has reclaimed its place along the Pacific coast. This month, California Condors bred in captivity are being released to the wild. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We’re listening to the sounds of young Condors.

“At the time they’re eight or nine months of age is when the condors would start learning to fly. That’s when they start practicing.”

Donald Bruning is Chairman and Curator of the Department of Ornithology at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“So the release efforts are that you take the young bird, just before it’s able to fly, you take it out to a release site and set it up in what is called a hacking site. The hacking term, comes form falconers. This is the way falconers previously would release falcons and other birds of prey. And so you feed them in this location for several weeks, preferably a month, and then one day you open the door and allow them to come out when you know they’re ready to start practicing using their wings. And they will come out and they will flap around. You continue providing food for several months at the same location. As the birds slowly learn how to fly, then you have to start supplying food in other locations so that they can pretend that they’re actually finding the real thing out there, because they do need to find food on their own, eventually.”

Our special thanks to Michael Wallace and the Los Angeles Zoo for the Condor recordings.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

CONDORS-Learning to Fly

This month, condors bred in captivity are being released into the wild.
Air Date:11/12/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Only a few years ago, the California Condor was nearly extinct -- its population down to as few as fifteen birds. But thanks to a captive breeding program, the condor has reclaimed its place along the Pacific coast. This month, California Condors bred in captivity are being released to the wild. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We're listening to the sounds of young Condors.

"At the time they're eight or nine months of age is when the condors would start learning to fly. That's when they start practicing."

Donald Bruning is Chairman and Curator of the Department of Ornithology at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"So the release efforts are that you take the young bird, just before it's able to fly, you take it out to a release site and set it up in what is called a hacking site. The hacking term, comes form falconers. This is the way falconers previously would release falcons and other birds of prey. And so you feed them in this location for several weeks, preferably a month, and then one day you open the door and allow them to come out when you know they're ready to start practicing using their wings. And they will come out and they will flap around. You continue providing food for several months at the same location. As the birds slowly learn how to fly, then you have to start supplying food in other locations so that they can pretend that they're actually finding the real thing out there, because they do need to find food on their own, eventually."

Our special thanks to Michael Wallace and the Los Angeles Zoo for the Condor recordings.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.