Leaving the Nest

Many of our loyal viewers have noticed that condor chick, Tiyep has been spending less time in the nest box and more time out of view of our Condor Cam. You may have also noticed him jumping and spinning around, testing out those giant wings and peeking over the side of the barrier that’s keeping him safe in the nest box. His curiosity has grown along with him and he is finally large enough to successfully hop up on to the barrier of the home he’s known for the last five months and take a look around. He’s been slowly venturing out on to the ledge that overlooks the flight yard he shares with his parents; Siwon (dad) and Sola (mom). We (and his parents) have been watching him closely to make sure he doesn’t get too close to the ledge before he is ready.

Over the last few days he has been using a pole ladder to carefully walk down to the ground of the flight yard to look around and even take his first bath in the pool! He enjoyed himself quite a bit, splashing around, with mom close enough for a rescue if she felt like he needed it. (Not to worry though, the pool is only a few feet deep—but that doesn’t matter to a protective mom or dad! )

As Tiyep has moved on to this next exciting step in his development, we’ve switched the Condor Cam view so you can follow along! You’ll be able to see the roost area, most of the perches in the pen, the feeding area, shade areas created by plants, and the pool, where he can get a drink or take a bath.  This will be a wide view, so it may be a little harder to see detail but if you’re lucky, you may catch his very first flight, often referred to as fledging! While he continues to use the ladder to go up and down from the roost area, we expect to see him fledge in about a week and a half. On average condor chicks tend to fledge around 155 days and we’re approaching that milestone with Tiyep. Of course every chick is different so we’ll be anxiously waiting along with you to see that 9 1/2 foot wingspan get him off the ground for the first time!

In these habitats we do minimal maintenance once the chick is large enough to look over the nest box barrier. So the yard has lots of plant growth and dried food (animal carcasses) in it. We limit our activities in/near chicks so as not to expose them to human presence. We have found that chicks raised in isolation from humans tend to be more successful once they are released to the wild. The flight yard looks different from the surroundings you see California condors in at the Safari Park’s public area, but Siwon and Sola prefer it that way, if it means we stay away from their precious chick!

As always, we hope you’re enjoying watching our condor chick as much as we are and we look forward to this next step in his adventure!

Erin Massey is a senior wildlife care specialist at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous blog, Condor Cam Chick Update.