PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — A California condor at the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation surprised keepers by laying a second egg just as her first one was hatching.
The first fluffy chick of 2021 hatched on March 13 to condor parents No. 765 and No. 55. The zoo says when keepers got their first glimpse of the chick, they noticed another egg in the next box.
“That was very surprising,” said Dr. Kelly Flaminio, who oversees the zoo’s condor recovery efforts. “Condors typically lay only one egg a year — as far as we know, this has never happened before.”
The zoo posted video of the new arrivals. To view the video, click here.
Flaminio says keepers will remove an egg from the nest box early in the season, which in certain cases can encourage condors to lay a second time.
The process is known as “double clutching” and has helped increase condor numbers and improve genetic diversity in the population since the recovery program began, according to the zoo.
However, Flaminio says that’s not what happened this time.
“Apparently, No. 765 double-clutched herself,” she said. “She laid a second egg right as her first one was hatching. We’ve never seen anything like it.”
The zoo says the new parents are doing a good job caring for both egg and chick, though keepers may transfer the egg to hatch under another condor pair and be foster-raised.
“Condor chicks require a tremendous amount of parental investment,” Flaminio said. “These two are experienced parents, but they’ve never raised ‘twins’ before.”
Since mid-January, 12 eggs in total have been laid this year. Five were confirmed to be fertile and at least one more is expected soon, the zoo said.
More than 70 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation since 2003. Several eggs laid by Oregon Zoo condors have been placed in wild nests to hatch.
The California condor was included on the Endangered Species Act back in 1973 and is classified as critically endangered.
According to the zoo, there were only 22 birds in the wild in 1982, and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction.
The zoo said thanks to breeding programs like theirs, condor numbers now total around 500 birds. Most of those birds of flying free.
To learn more about the California condors, visit oregonzoo.org/discover/animals/california-condor.