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Condor Chick Makes First Flight Attempt From Utah Cliff

(Jason Pietzak/National Parks Service, via AP)

Officials in Utah say a California Condor chick has left its nest and made its first attempt at flight at Zion National Park.

Visitors last week saw the park’s first successful hatchling stretch its wings and stumble out of its nesting cave on a sweeping red-rock cliff in a sighting that was confirmed later by park biologists.

Tim Hauck, who manages the condor reintroduction program for The Peregrine Fund group, described the 4½-month- condor’s flight attempt as a “controlled fall.” “The chick soared downward from the nest and landed on a lower cliff ledge,” Hauck said. “We expect it to stay there for a while with its parents.”

The surviving California condor population now stands at more than 500, with more than half of the birds with wingspans of up to 10 feet  living in the wild in an area including Arizona, California, Utah and northern Mexico. Other condors have been captured for breeding purposes or are held in zoos.

At least two more chicks have been born at the Utah park, but died before they were old enough to fly. California condors raised in captivity were first released in 1996 at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona near Utah. There are now more than 88 flying in the two states.

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