PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Zoo is celebrating its first California condor egg of the season as it continues its efforts to reintroduce the critically endangered bird to the wild.

The zoo’s senior condor keeper Kelli Walker said that this year’s condor recovery efforts are off to a good start, after condor number 492 and condor 432 produced another egg together on Jan. 29. If the egg hatches successfully, it will be the couple’s third chick in three years.

“We’re looking forward to another successful season,” Walker said. “There are only about 500 California condors in the world, so every egg is important.” 

The Oregon Zoo announced that a pair of endangered California condors have produced the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation’s first egg of 2023. (Courtesy Photo: Oregon Zoo)

In 1973, the California condor became the first species to be listed on the Endangered Species Act. By 1987, 22 California condors remained in the wild. These remaining birds were captured and brought into captivity in hopes of keeping the species alive.

Since then, organizations and government agencies like the Oregon Zoo have worked to rebuild the condor’s populations and reintroduce the birds into the wild. Since 2004, the Oregon Zoo has helped to reintroduce 51 condors into wild areas of California and Arizona.

The Oregon zoo currently maintains 14 mating condor pairs at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in rural Clackamas County. Each of these pairs has raised at least one baby condor.

“Like any parents, they benefit from a little practice, so it’s great that all of the pairs have experience hatching and raising chicks,” Walker said. “We’re monitoring the nest areas and will be checking the eggs to make sure they’re developing correctly.” 

Condors 492 and 432 will take turns incubating their newest egg through February. If successful, the egg is expected to hatch in March. More than 108 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center since 2003. While not all condors are chosen for release, the Oregon Zoo has raised more than 73 birds for field-pen release in the last 30 years.