California Condors take first flight in the wild during the 26th annual in-person and live-streamed public release
VERMILION CLIFFS, Ariz. - The Peregrine Fund and Bureau of Land Management at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument are hosting a celebration on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 25 at 1 p.m. MDT (noon MST, northern-Arizona Condor Time) by releasing captive-bred California Condors to take their first flights in the wild. The event will be held in-person at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument for anyone interested in travelling to the area, and it will also be live streamed via The Peregrine Fund’s YouTube Channel.
The Arizona-Utah California Condor conservation effort is a cooperative program by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, the Bureau of Land Management Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, the Bureau of Land Management in Utah, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie National Forests among many other supporting groups and individuals.
This is the 26th year the partnership has marked National Public Lands Day with a public release event at Vermilion Cliffs. In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team took the celebration online with more than 10,000 viewers of the event. Because of that success, the event will be live streamed again this year in addition to the in-person event.
"The Bureau of Land Management is excited once again to host the annual Arizona/Utah California condor National Public Lands Day event at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The BLM, alongside other state and federal agencies are privileged to work together with The Peregrine Fund in the recovery of this great species. Last year, COVID-19 forced us to bring the event to the public virtually. We are excited to host the event in person, according to CDC guidelines, but also virtually so that the scope and reach of this incredible and successful collaborative effort can continue to reach all interested around the world," says Bureau of Land Management Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Manager, Brandon Boshell.
Condor Program Manager for The Peregrine Fund, Tim Hauck says, “We are unable to schedule exactly when the birds will choose to leave their release pen, so the live stream event will have a picture-in-picture set up with a camera trained on the release pen, and will include videos and interviews with the condor biologists and conservationists who work with these massive birds! Viewers will also be able to ask us questions and have them answered live by our team.”
Those who will be attending the event in person will have the opportunity to talk to condor biologists, learn about the birds and their habitat, and enjoy a festival-like atmosphere while waiting for the birds to take that first leap off of the cliff. Details about attending the event in person are below.
The young condors hatched at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho and several partner organizations, including the Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park and were transported to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument for release to the wild.
The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the greater California Condor Recovery Program was initiated to save the species from extinction. As of July 2021 there are more than 100 condors in the wild in the rugged canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah and the total world population of endangered California Condors numbers more than 500 individuals, with more than half flying the skies of Arizona, Utah, California, and Mexico.
Set a reminder to join the live stream of the condor release on The Peregrine Fund’s YouTube Channel!
Information about attending the event in person:
Driving directions: Take Highway 89A from Kanab or Page to the Vermilion Cliffs (from Flagstaff take Highway 89 to Highway 89A). Turn north onto BLM Road 1065 (a dirt road next to the small house just east of the Kaibab Plateau) and continue almost 3 miles.
Bring: Spotting scope or binoculars, sunscreen, water, snack, chair, and layered clothing
Details: Informational kiosk, shade structure, and restroom at the site. The event will follow the CDC guidelines in place for outdoor gatherings at the time of the event.
Map: Condor Viewing Site
For more information about this California Condor recovery project:
Founded in 1970, The Peregrine Fund worked to save the Peregrine Falcon from going extinct in North America. Today the Peregrine Fund changes the future for nature and humanity by conserving birds of prey worldwide. Whether the threat is poisoning, habitat loss, human persecution, or any other cause, we use sound science to tackle the most pressing conservation issues head-on. We accomplish high impact results by preventing raptor extinctions, protecting areas of high raptor conservation value, and addressing landscape-level threats impacting multiple species. As a catalyst for change, we inspire people to value raptors and take action, and we invest in tomorrow's conservation leaders. By working with communities around the world to protect the wildlife and habitats on which they depend, we are able to create lasting conservation results while improving people’s ways of life. Support for our work comes from individual donors, corporations, foundations, and government grants.
This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.