Sunday, May 25, 2014

California Condors May 21, 2014 Marble Canyon Az.

On our way down to Texas in March we stopped off at Marble Canyon Arizona.  Two bridges cross the Colorado River here.  One is for automobile traffic and an older bridge is only used for foot traffic.  This is the start of the Grande Canyon.  We hoped to see California Condors roosting on the bridges but although we spent the night at the local motel to catch the evening and morning we had no luck.  An excellent photographer, Tara Tanaka of Florida, had captured a great shot of a Condor here earlier and her picture had me inspired. See her excellent shots here;                                                        When we were ready to head home from Green Valley, Arizona, we saw a report of the condors roosting again on the bridges.  This determined our return route back to British Columbia.  We were glad we decided to try again.  The birds have pulled back from near extinction in 1982 of 22 individuals to a little over 400 now.  There is a breeding facility in Idaho where 50 birds produce about a dozen hatchings a year.
I thought this looked like young bird and found it was hatched May 3 2011.  It is a male that has not developed the bright colours on the head yet.
He was rubbing his neck on the bridge girder and seemed to be regurgitating.  These birds are released close to this location at Vermilion Cliffs.
30 was hatched July 31, 2009 but was released Nov 8, 2011.  I wonder why it took 3 years?  F1 is the bird closest and he was hatched Apr 28 2007.  All 3 birds are male.
F1 wanted to join the other bird so he used his beak like a parrot to get across the girder,
A closer view.
With a little wing flapping he made it.

F1 settled in with his partner who didn't seem to appreciate the extra company.
So 30 took off and F1 was right with him.  
They started putting on a show for me.
They flew over me and through the girders of the bridges.
They circled against the walls of the canyon.
They came straight at me at times.
Here F1 shows a bare breast bone.  If he wasn't a male I would have sworn it was a brood patch.  (Or maybe males have brood patches? )
Both birds seemed to enjoy a bit of flight synchronization.  Both birds had very worn feathers.

They seemed to be including me in their antics.
F1 flying under the bridge below me.

Finally one of them got bored and in a few minutes was out of sight up the canyon while the other one flew back to the bridge and joined 19.  All the information on birds was obtained from the Peregrine Fund website-(

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