Baby condor dies after eating trash.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
A wild California condor chick died in Big Sur in late July, likely from eating trash, according to an Aug. 4 press release from Ventana Wildlife Society.
In the course of a routine nest check, VWS Senior Wildlife Biologist Joe Burnett and his colleagues discovered the body of Condor #503, a three-and-a-half-month-old female, in the brush beneath its redwood tree nest in Big Creek Reserve July 21.
“Although the loss of a wild chick is never easy, we still feel very fortunate to have four chicks surviving in the wild this year," Burnett stated. "In 2007 and 2008 we had a combined total of three chicks produced, and they still thrive today. And 2009 is on track to be the most productive year yet for condors in central California.”
Veterinarian Amy Wells noticed a strange bulge from the chick's stomach and later found a matted ball of trash—"glass shards, plastic, a piece of metal, and a penny—among its contents. A full necropsy at San Diego Zoo found even more trash in the chick's body, though toxicity tests were inconclusive.
Digestive blockage probably kept the chick from eating food and eventually caused her to starve, Wells stated.
Condor #503's parents, #208 ("Solo") and #168 ("Beak Boy"), had been feeding her with scavenged meat along the Big Sur coast, including sea lion and whale meat. "We suspect the parents are finding small pieces of trash while on the search for food," states VWS Executive Director Kelly Sorenson. “We are alarmed at the amount of trash left behind along the scenic Highway One in Big Sur and its effects on wildlife."
The impacts of trash on other birds and marine life has been well documented.