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[P]
California Condor hatches in the wild

By imrdkl in News
Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 11:59:55 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

There's a new California Condor among us. This is the first one to be hatched in the wild in more than 18 years since a special conservation project was launched, in a last-ditch effort to preserve them. It's fair to say that many had given up hope, or were at least skeptical, about the viability of these birds when they were returned to the wild, just a few years ago. Well, to coin a phrase from a movie about another ancient species:

Nature will find a way.


Biologists and other researchers, some of whom have dedicated their entire careers to the work of preserving this amazing bird are, in a word, soaring about the news. They had been concerned that the parent birds, having been raised in captivity, wouldn't know what to do when the chick was hatched. In fact, their single egg was accidentally partially broken just before hatching time by the female, in an attempt to assume her position as chief incubator, and nudging the male out of the way in the nest. However, with the chick now 2 days old, and being fed and nurtured properly, it seems their fears about loss of parental instinct were unfounded.

The next two weeks will be critical for this chick. According to Bruce Palmer, the California Condor Recovery Coordinator at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are "a number of things that could still lead to it's death", including infection and of course, predators.

More than $40 million has been spent to preserve the species, and that was a "shoestring budget", according to Palmer. However, there is at least one other Condor nest which is know to have eggs currently in it. This could be shaping up to be good year for Condor-funding, if this chick survives. The female in this nest appears to be Condor-8, which was released from the Los Angeles Zoo just over 2 years ago.

The California Condor is the largest species of land bird in the North America. It came within an hairs breadth of extinction, with only 27 living in the wild in 1987, when the special conservation program to save the species was begun. It is one of the rarest birds in the world. It's relatively infrequent mating activity, and the fact that it typically lays only one egg per cycle, is thought to have contributed to it's reduction in numbers. Loss off food supply, environmental poisoning (leading to thin egg shells), and shooting are also blamed.

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California Condor hatches in the wild | 32 comments (23 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
My next story: (1.00 / 25) (#1)
by elshafti on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 08:29:13 PM EST

Dog shits in the park.
I think I am learning to give up on the tragedy of not attaining perfection. -Persimmon
that should be an editorial comment ;) [nt] (2.00 / 2) (#10)
by infinitera on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:02:01 PM EST



[ Parent ]
mmmm.. condor (2.88 / 9) (#7)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 09:10:46 PM EST

In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought you might like my favorite recipe.

Condor francese

  • 1/2 pound fresh condor breast, cut into thin cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons romano cheese
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup condor stock
  • 6 thin, round, slices of lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Season the condor cutlets with salt and pepper.

Place cheese and parsley in a wide, shallow bowl. Slowly add the beaten egg, whisking until it's smoothly incorporated.

Place the flour on a wide plate.

Dip the condor cutlets in the egg mixture. Remove, letting excess egg drip back into the bowl.

Place each condor cutlet in the flour, and coat lightly. Remove from flour and hold them in a single layer.

Add the olive oil to a sauté pan large enough to hold the 6 condor cutlets in a single layer.

Place over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the condor cutlets. Sauté, turning once, until the condor cutlets are golden on the outside, just cooked on the inside (about 2 minutes per side).

Remove the condor cutlets, and hold them in a single layer.

Spill the oil out of the sauté pan into a bowl. Return the pan to high heat. Add the white wine, and reduce it to 2 tablespoons. Add the condor stock and the lemon slices. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove the lemon slices. Keep boiling the sauce until it's reduced to 1/2 cup.

Turn heat to very low. Swirl in the butter until the sauce is thickened. Add the reserved condor pieces, turning them until they are coated in sauce. Divide cutlets among 2 plates, pour remaining sauce over them, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, and serve immediately.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

$40 million?! (3.00 / 5) (#8)
by Mysidia on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 09:33:15 PM EST

More than $40 million has been spent to preserve the species, and that was a "shoestring budget", according to Palmer. However, there is at least one other Condor nest which is know to have eggs currently in it.

What a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars.

I think the government has gotten too excessive in funding these "species preservation" things. How far should it go? Not very. Perhaps there needs to be a liability for people (or corporations) destroying habitats/killing things; ie: a requirement that they foot the bill for their devestating actions, not the taxpayers.

I for one think $50 million and the countless other dollars could go to things far better than trying to save a species that are already relatively extinguished (and won't ever again have the once-vast natural, suitable habitat).

Even things like cleaning up the mess humans have made are more valuable; trying to regrow populations from the tiny gene pool of a few survivers of a species is wishful thinking and crying over spilt milk... instead preserve their DNA now and clone them when it becomes feasible <eg>



-Mysidia the insane @k5
better uses for the money: (4.40 / 5) (#12)
by dr k on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:15:06 PM EST

Hm, maybe we could:
  • Buy curtains for all those offensive nude statues that frame our public buildings
  • Spend it on a massive, 18 month crackdown on child pornography, that will result in the arrest of at least 8 people
  • Buy an ad during the superbowl to promote the war on drugs.

Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]
What's your point? (2.66 / 3) (#13)
by J'raxis on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:18:59 PM EST

What’s your point? That this is acceptable because it is not the most stupid thing the government wastes its money on? I’ll have to remember that. Do something stupid, then make excuses by doing something stupider and pointing that out...

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

what was stupid about it? (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by dr k on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 11:01:04 PM EST

Okay, so $40 million over 18 years, that is a little over $2 million a year, let's say half of that is spent on salary, half on equipment, so the money creates about 20-30 jobs. Clearly we are spending too much, as this is a "stupid" project. I want my 10 cents back, please.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Uh (3.20 / 5) (#9)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 09:46:16 PM EST

There's a reason animals become extinct...

It's relatively infrequent mating activity, and the fact that it typically lays only one egg per cycle, is thought to have contributed to it's reduction in numbers. Loss off food supply, environmental poisoning (leading to thin egg shells), and shooting are also blamed

Yep, that's why. It's called survival of the fittest. Granted, I hope that 100 years from now we have more species on Earth than just domesticated animals and cockroaches, but if that's the way it goes, that's the way it goes. As the poster said, nature will find a way... it might mean the end of us, but by that point if we can't adapt...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


death to teleology! nature has no point! (3.00 / 5) (#14)
by sayke on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:26:40 PM EST

here can be found a scathing critique of your position. remember, man is part of nature, not somehow seperate from it, and survival has little to do with "fitness" in any kind of absolute sense.

remember, just because something survives doesn't somehow mean it was somehow "better" then the stuff that died. the teleological notion of "fitness" is merey used to justify the promotion of traits the justifer likes, and as such is just another moral highground from which dishonest (or stupid) orators spew bullshit.

"survival of the survivors" would be a more apt phrase - it at least conveys some of the essential arbitrary pointlessness of biological evolution.

</rant>


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Emm (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by kuran42 on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:51:12 PM EST

Of course "fitness" has no idea about fitness. That doesn't invalidate fitness as a useful concept though. Put a fish and a cat in the ocean. Which survives? The one more fit to live in the environment.

--
kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
Let's see (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:52:09 PM EST

I read the piece, but I think you're reading into my post too much:

remember, just because something survives doesn't somehow mean it was somehow "better" then the stuff that died

Never said that was the case. Clearly humans, due to their intelligence, have the capability to eradicate many forms of life (all of 'em, if we so choose). There are certain species that have adapted to mankind's presence: they lived; those that did not adapt, died, or are dying.

It's a fact, the environment changes, and a species either adapts or dies. Before mankind that environment was usually nature itself, but there have been cases of species that have destroyed another species completely (which usually leads directly to their own downfall as well). Mankind/technology is just another environmental change.

Did you know that when man reached the New World circa 11,000 BC, there were hoards of large mastadon-like creatures covering all of North and South America? There were a number of other large game animal species. Within a few thousand years these species were extinct. One can posutlate that they perished because they had not adapted to man kind's presence. One would imagine animals similar to them existed in Africa prior to man's "rise." Those animals that did not have the genes (or adapt the needed behavior) to flee from man were quickly exterminated.

I state this as fact. I claim that this is not bad, per se, it's just the way it is. That's how nature works. Now, if we, as a specie, continue to decimate our resource base via deforestation, industrial waste, etc. we may very well find ourselves, one day, unable to produce the resources we need to survive. If that happens, we may perish, as a species, but life will continue. I don't want the human specie to perish, so I am all for preservation of the species. I just wanted to express that a specie becoming extinct is not the worst crime mankind can commit, since it is not a crime but a part of nature, even animals have brought other species to extinction.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Contradictions (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by whojgalt on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:11:40 PM EST

From the article:

more than 18 years since a special conservation project was launched

Biologists and other researchers, some of whom have dedicated their entire careers to the work of preserving this amazing bird

More than $40 million has been spent to preserve the species

And from a comment by the author:

There was actually alot of technology and at least some culture, behind this chick's successful hatching.

With all that, the following:

Nature will find a way.

is simply ridiculous. Nature did not find a way and was not about to. It was man, with his superior intelligence and singular ability to transcend nature and bend it to his will that saved the condor.

Man will find a way.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you can't see it from the car, it's not really scenery.
Any code more than six months old was written by an idiot.

Back when the effort began... (5.00 / 7) (#15)
by localroger on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 10:27:00 PM EST

I happened to be at an AFA convention where one of the people who founded the Condor captive-breeding and reintroduction effort spoke. At this time, maybe 15 years ago, it had just been learned that the condors would double-clutch, i.e. you could take a wild pair's eggs before a critical time and they'd lay more eggs. Turns out one of the pre-eminent biologists who had done all the seminal research about the California Condors had lied about this to so that humans would leave the birds alone.

The American Federation of Aviculture is a group of people who keep and breed birds in captivity. The talk lasted about an hour and went into great detail about how the Condors' original range had turned lethal -- criscrossed by powerlines, laced with illegal (but still common) coyote poison traps that also attracted the birds, etc. Another, more remote range, did not have a natural Condor population at that time but was thought to make a more suitable home. At the time some of the greener-than-thou enviros were making noises about how they "needed" the Condor as a poster child for extinction.

After the man (whose name tragically escapes me, though you've probably read it in one of these articles) finished his talk, we rose and gave him a thundering standing O. I will never forget the look in his eyes; so long had he been fighting both the right and the left, that I think he had forgotten that some of us shared his concern that the birds themselves survive, even if that survival had to be tainted by the un-green assistance of humans, even if it represented an un-capitalistic devotion of resources to something with no obvious monetary return.

While it might be "natural" to allow the Condors to go extinct (if it's "natural" to be driven there by power lines and coyote traps), some things are simply beautiful and awesome and there is glory in preserving them even if the only place you can have them is behind glass.

Thank you for posting this, imrdkl. It's been a long time since I saw news that was just simply this pleasant to see.

I can haz blog!

Thanks localroger (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by imrdkl on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 03:16:37 AM EST

your comment made the effort worthwhile, in spite of all the tasteless humor. (Rusty's FP vote was also comforting)

Say, what about a new topic, with an condor as the icon? Perhaps called Nature, or something?

[ Parent ]

Birds Act Naturally (none / 0) (#21)
by notafurry on Wed Apr 17, 2002 at 11:41:11 PM EST

Film at eleven.

Or maybe I'm too cynical.

"Nature will find a way." (none / 0) (#22)
by xriso on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 12:23:28 AM EST

Ummm... right. This is such a great phrase that it has a greatness overflow and actually is contradictory to what actually happened.

Species go extinct all the time.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

Humans get killed all the time. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by FreddytheFish on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 12:56:54 PM EST

Just because it does happen doesn't mean that it should happen.


Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. --J. W. von Goethe
[ Parent ]

Us horrid humans interfer with nature finding a (none / 0) (#32)
by sweetie on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:11:58 PM EST

way.

[ Parent ]
The Biodiversity Monster! (1.50 / 2) (#26)
by gainax on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 05:10:37 AM EST

Sure, biodiversity is important, but it's been blown into another Big Spending porkbarrel I think.

It is incredibly good that this projects looks like it has a realistic chance to succeed now. If we're lucky, (ha ha) perhaps programs like this will recieve some oversight?



overseeing that $20 million (5.00 / 3) (#27)
by dr k on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 06:02:12 AM EST

Hey, kids, let's all play "pretend". Let's pretend that the half-dozen "green" issues addressed by Washington have accidentally been given ten times the money they were supposed to receive. Do you suppose Senator Bubba from Texas will feel the effect on his state highway pork budget? Do you suppose the heavily subsidized agriculture industry will be upset by the loss of a few hundredth's of a percent of their funding? No? C'mon, now, kids, we're playing PRETEND.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

i've always wondered about endangered species (none / 0) (#29)
by mikpos on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 01:12:08 PM EST

This isn't 100% on topic, but it is a little bit. It's about how endangered species build back their populations, and this seems as good a story as any.

Don't the new populations suffer from incest? I always hear about how some population is down to 5 or 10 or 50 mating pairs, and how it's hoped (and sometimes it actually happens) that they'll be able to rebuild their populations. But in order to do that, somewhere along the line daddy's doing his little girl or brother and sister are getting a little friendly with each other, right? If the human population were to be brought back from say 5 mating pairs, we'd all end up hemophilic mental retards, wouldn't we?

Is it because these birds' DNA isn't so complicated that in-breeding doesn't have such a profound effect? Or are condors already a little dim, so we just don't notice their deficiencies?

Wild cheetah populations (none / 0) (#30)
by rantweasel on Thu Apr 18, 2002 at 07:02:07 PM EST

I recall that cheetahs in the wild are facing serious problems because of a lack of diversity, and it was theorized that the cheetah population was severely reduced in some manner a few hundred years ago, and they are now starting to feel the effects of having a very limited gene pool. I'd imagine that California condors, if the species survives, will face the same problems.

mathias

[ Parent ]
Incest is not that bad genetically (none / 0) (#31)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Fri Apr 19, 2002 at 10:51:21 AM EST

If the human population were to be brought back from say 5 mating pairs, we'd all end up hemophilic mental retards, wouldn't we?

Incest doesn't cause genetic problems, it just means that any that are already there are cannot be escaped.

For example, Sickle Cell Anaemia has a blatant genetic cause (a double-recessive version of a gene that actually gives you increased resistance to malaria if you have the single-recessive genotype). If you were down to 5 mating pairs, but none of them happened to have the recessive SCA gene, then you would have eradicated the disease.

On the other hand, if one of the people had the gene (even just as an unnoticed carrier of a single-recessive copy), you would end up with a huge percentage of the rebuilt population possessing it - probably much more than most current populations have.

It is this possibility of ahigh percentage of certain problems in isolated and inbred populations that has given rise to the myth that incest in and of itself causes these type of problems.

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.
[ Parent ]

California Condor hatches in the wild | 32 comments (23 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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