California condors are a critically endangered species, which makes witnessing the birth and early life of a condor chick a rare experience. But thanks to live-streaming technology and two proud condor foster parents named No. 111 and No. 509, you can now watch a day-old condor as it slowly discovers the world (or at least the little cave No. 111 and No. 509 call home).
Live Science reports that the female No. 111 and male No. 509 started courting in 2014, and eventually created an egg together. Unfortunately, that egg went missing in March, likely stolen by a predator. Since condors are so rare, scientists didn’t want to let the coupling of No. 111 and No. 509 go to waste. Just three days after the egg disappeared, they rappelled into the birds’ mountain nest, and replaced the original egg with a fake. The two condors, noticing nothing amiss, continued incubating the dummy egg until April 3, when scientists again swapped the fake egg with a real one, laid in captivity by another condor at the Los Angeles Zoo.
The chick hatched on Monday, and the whole process streamed live via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cam. CNET explains that the condor live feed is a joint project between Cornell, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The little condor family lives in the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in California.
Scientists want the live stream to serve as an educational tool, in order to teach people about the California condor population problem.
“We hope [the livecam] will really raise awareness about these spectacular but highly endangered birds and the threats they face,” Charles Eldercare, the bird cam manager, told The Washington Post. “We know from past experience that people form a real emotional connection to the birds they see on the cams as they witness a part of nature they’ve never seen before.”
[h/t Live Science]
Header and banner images via LabOfOrnithology on YouTube