California Wildfires: Video Shows Endangered Condor Chick in Burning Nest

by Jon D. B.
wildfires-video-shows-endangered-california-condor-chicks-in-burning-nest

In a harrowing scene shown by a wildlife camera, an endangered baby California Condor chick can be seen in their nest moments before wildfires take over.

The Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Cam is a popular wildlife tool for fauna experts and enthusiasts. The organization’s live-footage allows the world to watch the progress of California Condor chicks – a critically endangered species. No stranger to wildfires in the past, the condors are now unable to cope with the wildfires due to their almost non-existent numbers in the wild. Any loss to wildfire for the species now is catastrophic.

As the Big Sur Dolan wildfire rages closer, crackling wood and incinerating forest swells in the background. The baby chick, completely helpless, waddles in his space – doing his best to survive. Thankfully, the exhausting footage has a happy ending.

Iniko the California Condor Chick

This particular condor chick is named Iniko – and he has been named a survivor of the wildfire. According to the society’s executive director, Kelly Sorenson, Inko is indeed “alive and well”.

“Iniko survived the fire along with one other chick plus one other saved before the fire burned through. There were five chicks affected by the Dolan Fire… Unfortunately, two chicks in other nests did not make it, and the nine condors listed on our website went missing since the fire on August 21. We are concerned that they may have perished in the fire since it burned through at night and condors don’t typically fly in the dark.”

Kelly Sorenson via SFGate

While the other losses are beyond tragic, victories must be celebrated. In this case, the terrifying footage of Iniko’s plight signifies such a victory – and the resilience of this endangered species.

Condor live-stream was “both a blessing and a nightmare”

Luckily for Iniko, giant coastal redwood trees evolved to withstand wildfire. Their thick bark – a source natural fireproofing – combined with the incredible construction of California Condor nests – saved his life.

“It was just terrifying… Having the live-streaming webcams was both a blessing and a nightmare because we had to watch the fire as it burned through the canyon.”

Sorenson, SFGate

According to SFGate, the Dolan fire was started by suspected arson. It is currently at 40% containment per Cal Fire.

wildfires-video-shows-endangered-california-condor-chicks-in-burning-nest
A pair of endangered California Condors sit in wildfire haze. (Photo credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“It is a devastating blow to a wild population of just 100 free-flying condors and given their ages, which combined totals 73 condor-years. In the 25 years since reintroduction of captive-bred condors began, only seven condors died to wildfire so if the missing birds perished in the fire, it would be quite significant.”

Sorenson, FGate

Sorenson, however, refuses to let this suspected arson – or the catastrophic losses – waiver her determination.

“We are not going to let this fire slow us down. Next month, we are receiving a cohort of nine condors at our San Simeon release site while we rebuild the Big Sur Sanctuary.”

Sorenson, SFGate

Watch the footage below:

The Ventana Wildlife Society has put up a fundraising effort to rebuild the nests. If you wish to help the California Condors survive extinction, you can help here.

[H/T SFGate]

Outsider.com