Rare bird spotted in Zion National Park

0

The sighting of a California condor in the park is a promising sign for the species.

(Shane Wayment) While hiking to Angels Landing, Jessie Gariepy and Shane Wayment came across an adolescent Californian condor, known to state biologists and park officials as 1111.

While hiking to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Jessie Gariepy and Shane Wayment came across an adolescent Californian condor known to state biologists and park officials as 1111. The juvenile bird is friendly, photogenic, and lives from a nesting cave north of the iconic Sandstone Hike.

The Utah Division of Natural Resources shared a photo of #1111 on their Twitter page last week in part because the sight is so rare.

There are about 100 wild California condors that live and migrate between southern Utah and northern Arizona, including nesting grounds in Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, according to the National Park Service. As a critically endangered species, California condors thrive under the protection of federal endangered species law and the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the Peregrine Fund, which is working to help bring this bird back from near extinction.

California condors were nearly extinct in the 1980s — at one point there were just 22 birds, according to the Peregrine Fund. There are now 500 birds in the world that fly from southern Utah to Mexico.

These scavenger birds sometimes die of lead poisoning after ingesting bullet fragments embedded in piles of intestines left behind by hunters.

While Wayment gets credit for the photograph the Utah Department of Natural Resources shared from #1111 on Twitter, Gariepy is the person seeing the young bird. Born last spring, #1111 is the second condor to take flight or learn to fly in Sion. The first bird, #1000, was his older brother, according to the National Park Service.

Most condors in Zion are tagged with a tracker, but #1111 is not, says Zion National Park spokesman Jonathan Shafer. The parents of #1111 are mother condor #409 and father condor #523.

(Shane Wayment) While hiking to Angels Landing, Jessie Gariepy and Shane Wayment came across an adolescent Californian condor, known to state biologists and park officials as 1111.

“California condors are curious and sometimes attracted to human activity. They are frequently seen in Zion perched or hovering above Angels Landing and on the road to Kolob Terrace near Lava Point,” Shafer told The Tribune. “If a bird is perched, do not approach it or offer it food. If a condor is near people, please note its tag number and notify a park ranger.

Russell Norvell, bird conservation program coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the Endangered Species Act is bringing the bird back from extinction.

“I think ESA is not the only solution for bird conservation,” Norvell said. “But for the California condor in this population, that’s been the backbone, I think, of our recovery efforts.”

Wayment says that while hiking to Angels Landing, he saw No. 1111 perched on another cliff. Seeing the bird in its natural habitat was special to him. “Being up close and personal with possibly the rarest bird on Earth is pretty special,” he said.

Wanting to get away from the Wasatch front, Garipy and Wayment decided to head to southern Utah on a whim last week. When they got inside the park, they immediately headed for Angels Landing. Unlike peak season, the couple were able to get to the trailhead without going through the pilot lottery system to hike Angels Landing, which took effect this New Year.

January 20 was the last day the public could bid to hike Angels Landing in the spring. The first lottery for Angels Landing was held January 1-20 for hikes between April 1-May 31.

Share.

Comments are closed.