Third California condor chick spotted near Grand Canyon

GRAND CANYON, AZ - After much speculation from deep in the Grand Canyon, a biologist was finally able to capture a glimpse of the newest baby California condor.

Until then, there were reports that the chick had been seen, but no one had been able to confirm it until it was found in a nest cave deep in the canyon.

This chick is the third confirmed wild-hatched California condor in the Arizona-Utah population in 2012.

The head of the condor field operations for The Peregrine Fund, Chris Parish, said that they believe the chick was hatched sometime in early May.

They expect the bird to take its first flight later in the fall as condor chicks are dependent on their parents for around 18 months after hatching.

The other two chicks that have been confirmed were found at the Grand Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

According to a news release, including the new chicks, there are 77 endangered California condors living wild in Arizona and Utah.

Eighteen California condor chicks have been hatched since the population was reintroduced to Arizona in 1996.

Growing the California condor population is a very slow process as they can take up to six years to reach breeding maturity and only produce one egg every other year, according to officials.

Lead poisoning has threatened their population, killing at least 23 birds since 2000 and remaining the top cause of death.

As birds feed on carcasses and piles of meat left after being shot by lead ammunition, they in turn ingest pieces of lead from the bullets.

The news release reports that since 2005, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has offered non-lead ammunition programs for hunters, showing surprising participation by hunters concerned about conservation.

In fact, they report that around 90 percent of hunters have helped to reduce the amount of lead by buying non-lead bullets or removing the carcasses they shoot.

The recovery program of California condors is a widespread effort by many organizations including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, national parks and more.

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