Condor Watch Talk

Dates of photos

  • LouiseWalters by LouiseWalters

    I am new to this and I was marking the birds in the photo ACW0005kao. I looked at the details of bird #3 once I completed marking and I see she died of lead poisoning some time ago. Please tell me why a photo of a bird already deceased is still being marked. Thanks!


  • wreness by wreness moderator

    HI Louise!

    Sadly, you will find many birds in the photos who have died, mostly all from lead poisoning, the main killer of these beautiful birds.

    This is the primary goal of the Condor Watch project in studying the photos. Lead poisoning happens when the condors eat carcass that contain lead from ammunition (for the story on how lead infects and kills condors, you can read CW Scientist Myra Finkelstein's Blog post about Condor White1, who will will also see in photos. It's very sad so be prepared)

    At the time of the photo, the condors are alive of course. Condors are social birds and so live in groups, develop friendships, hierarchies. They eat together, parents raise their young together. A condor can belong to several groups or have a preference for a few condors in particular. This often happens with juveniles that have been hatched at the same time at the same location (called "cohorts").

    Recording the tag numbers on the condors here is helping to build a map of each condor's social structure. Ideally, each condor is trapped in the wild every year for a health check and its lead levels checked. So if Condor #3 is found to have extremely high lead levels or found dead, the condors that are known to part of their social circle can be trapped since this might mean they are also suffering from dangerous or fatally high lead levels and treatment can be started.

    Here's another Blog post by CW Scientist DShizuka , explaining how the data we classify here is translated into a map of a condor's social life - complete with the best cow carcass drawing , ever.


  • vjbakker by vjbakker scientist

    Great answer @wreness. Thank you!