Monday, July 07, 2008

CA Wild Fires Threaten Condors OR The Fourth of July, Part I

When I first came to the computer to do today's blog, I had it in my mind that I should talk about the danger to the CA Condors, the most threatened bird I'm told, (That is if you don't think there are any Ivory Bill's left or species we don't know about keeling over.) that the CA wildfires are posing.

I then realized that that was going to most likely be depressing. And I realized I was tired. And that one more blog about depressing bird issues just seemed like one too many in a row at the moment. Particularly as we haven't been following any individual Condors and as far as I know, there is no new news concerning the Houston Family or Lead Fledge. The Cathedral fledgling in Central Park appears dandy and I've not received any heads up about the NYC Red-tails today having something dire happen. Hmmm.

Oh, I'll get back on the reporting bicycle, couldn't keep myself from it, but just for today I'm thinking a day off from sick, injured, poisoned, unfindable, or endangered birds would be a thought.

So I scrutinized that thought. Was I being a weinie?

No I wasn't. I was reacting like a reasoably normal Homo sapien.

What does that mean?

It means, that if there was a California Condor named, for instance Harvey, instead of something like A217, and I knew who Harvey's mate and child were, I would absolutely have to check on how Harvey was doing. But since they insist on calling "Harvey" a number, he isn't personalized. And somehow-- thinking, " I wonder how Harvey and the family are doing with those fires in California? I better find out." is totally different than, " I wonder how A217 is." I mean who is A 217? At least it seems that way to me at the moment. Though I've just found that as I've read the beginning of this paragraph a number of times, A217 is becoming more like a name all the time. That's Homo sapien for you.

Which made me start thinking about human behavior. We are mammals after all.

Titillated I went ahead with that path and I have the photographs for Part II all loaded and ready for the prose, but as there are 14 them--yes, afraid so-- hate to break it to you--

BLOGGER is tired too, and probably grumpy. BLOGGER doesn't want to load any more photographs so BLOGGER isn't going to, because that's how BLOGGER is.

Therefore I'm trying to decide if any of it will make sense if I leave you with no Part I while publishing Part II.

D. B.


Sally said...

Interesting thought, about naming the birds. I guess it does bring us closer to them somehow, in some personal way we "know" them better if they have a name. Although I think I had the same feelings for Houston 1,2 and 3 as for "Hous", even Riverside 1 or Cathedral 2 is more personal, identifying than A217 or 08-135, as we identify our rehab birds here. Once they have a name, though, they are more like our family, and we do seem to take a more personal interest in them. Would the public at large care more about our endangered creatures if we named them?

Karen Anne said...

Here's California condor news I found on the web, some good:

Slightly conflicting news about the adult wild condors. One site says 44, each wearing a transmitter, have flown out of harm's way. Another says one, a mom of one of the endangered chicks, is missing.

There seem to be 3 chicks. One in an area where a fire went thru, condition unknown, nest 200 ft high, so some dim hope remains, but I assume the parents are not there to feed him or her if the chick survived. The other 2 chicks are in an area where a fire is encroaching and rescuers can't get there. Think good damp coast thoughts. I didn't find an article saying where the parents of these 2 chicks were.

Map of two condor nests and fire location here:

Eight condors who were being prepared to be released were rescued, rescue story here:
I don't know if these count as part of the 44 or not.

A note about humans, state firefighting resources having run out, individuals are fighting fires in groups:
(political announcement) Where's the National Guard? Well, we know where many of them are.

Donegal Browne said...


Would the public at large care more about our endangered creatures if we named them?

Absolutely. It has a basis in scientific fact as well as in many folk traditions.

Great question. I know others also will be iterested so I'm going to switch it to the mainpage of the next post.

mona said...


I'm in SF CA and am having a hard time getting condor news. I did find these two sources, but still, not a lot of info. It doesn't sound good for the chicks who can't fly, but I'll remain hopeful that by some miracle, they won't perish. It's heartbreaking that they are breeding in the wild again and then this fire comes along.

Donegal Browne said...

Mona and Karen Anne,

Many thanks for the links to the Condor news.

Yes,Mona. Quite dreadful that the condors are now finally back nesting in the wild and then another human motivated natural disaster occurs. And this is exactly the chief fear when there are so few of a species, in such a limited area. One "glitch" and they can be gone.

Godspeed, Condors!

mona said...


Some good news on the condors in the article below. 24 of the 25 wild condors have been accounted for. Two of the chicks are believed to have survived, but this is not confirmed yet. There is more concern for the one chick in the hollow of an ancient redwood tree, but we're still hoping for all to have survived. I would think smoke inhalation would have the same effect on their lungs as ours. Do you know about this Donna?

The Sudden Oak Death Syndrome that has killed so many West Coast trees, has contributed to the ferociousness of this fire.

Here are a couple of fire blogs with links to others:

Donegal Browne said...


Hooray for the Condors! Given half a chance they're tough birds.

Thank you for the links.

As to smoke inhalation, I'm not intimately familiar with Condors so I don't know if they have any special evolutionary advantages when it comes to smoke. One never knows as there is nothing stranger than nature. But most birds are as sensitive if not more so to smoke than we are. But this is a chick in a cavity of a fire resistant tree so we'll all just keep our fingers crossed.

Donegal Browne said...

As to feeding the chick, bird parents, particularly those that only produce one offspring per cycle will go through hell and high water to care for their young, if there is a way, the parents will get there.