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New Condor-Cam provides bird's eye view of condor family in Ventura County's backcountry

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USFWS
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Condor #462 with its new chick in their nest in a remote area of Ventura County, outside of Fillmore.

Endangered birds making a comeback, but there are still less than 100 in Southern California population.

The population of the endangered California Condor has increased by one, with the birth of a new condor chick in Ventura County’s backcountry.

"It's in a nest in what we call Toms Canyon, which is near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, which is near Fillmore," said Arianna Punzalan, the Supervisory Wildlife Biologist for the California Condor Recovery Program.

While the nest that’s home to the new chick is in a remote area, you can experience it live through a brand new condor-cam.

"This is the first time we've had a camera in this next, and this nest area," said the biologist.

The endangered birds came close to extinction in the 1980’s. But, captive breeding and recovery programs have helped them make a comeback. There are now around 90 in Southern California.

One of the biggest issues they face is lead poisoning. There’s been a push to have hunters reduce the use of lead bullets, because the birds will eat animal remains often peppered with lead fragments. The lead has been sickening, and killing the birds.

The biologist says there is some family drama being documented by the condor-cam. Watch out Jerry Springer! The chick’s mother is the foster mother of the chick’s father.

And, the condors have some interesting family dynamics.

"846, the female, was brooding the chick," said Punzalan. "462 (the male) has such a strong parental instinct that he was trying to move her over, so he could help keep the chick warm."

But, the biologist says the mother wouldn't budge, and the male chick ended up sitting next to them on some egg fragments.

It’s the first chick for the two birds, and they both of been almost competing to be the best parent.

The biologists use numbers, instead of name for the birds to keep things scientific. But, when you watch the birds so much, it seems like it would be hard not to get attached. They do have nicknames for some of the birds.

You can watch the birds 24/7 through the condor-cam, which is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.