Condor's Flyover Is 'Natural Inquisitiveness'

Times Staff Writer

A recently transplanted Andean condor flew over Ventura last week. A government biologist said he hopes that the bird doesn't make a habit of it.

"Exploring is part of its natural inquisitiveness, so we're not really surprised by the visit," said biologist James Wiley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "But I would be concerned if it were attracted back."

Wiley said it is too early to tell whether the condor's flight over Grant Park started a trend. If it did, officials will have to find ways to keep the birds away.

One concern is that the curious birds, with their 8-foot wingspans, may become targets for hunters and others, he said. Another is that populated areas simply pose more dangers for the birds than the wilderness.

The bird is one of six that were released next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary near Fillmore last year in an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos, and the California Department of Fish and Game to study condors in the wild.

Project officials are monitoring the Andean birds in an effort to learn more about what may happen when the endangered California condors eventually are released into the wild.

"We want to learn where these birds are going to go, what kinds of challenges they are going to run into," Wiley said. "That way we can gather information that may help us when the California condors are released."

Of the original seven Andean condors, five are still alive. One died as it was moved to the release site, and another was killed when it flew into electrical lines, Wiley said.

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