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Help for the Effort to Reintroduce California Condors to the Wild

Condor Cam Designed to Transmit Live images of Condors from the Release Site to the Internet

California condors, all but extinct in 1987, are being reintroduced into the wild under the direction of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in partnership with the Ventana Wilderness Society and The Peregrine Fund (TPF).

TerraFocus designed and built a prototype Condor Cam to help the Ventana Wilderness Society (VWS) manage the condors under their care as part of the Condor Recovery Program.

Because condors can develop an attraction to humans (imprinting), condor managers go to great lengths to stay out of the sight of chicks. An observer would hike to the condor reintroduction pen before dawn, spend the day observing the condors from behind a one-way window, and then hike back to the bunkhouse after dark.

To relieve manpower and make observation easier, we designed a surveillance camera system. The first generation Condor Cam was installed in the reintroduction pen at VWS's Big Sur site where condors are held while they are being prepared for release to the wild. The Condor Cam provided a valuable research and management tool for the biologists responsible for the birds. Observers could watch the condors on a video monitor installed at the bunkhouse.

The Condor Cam II system was designed not only as a research and management tool, but to send live images of the condors to the Internet where other researchers, students, and the general public could see the condors and learn about the work being done to bring these magnificent birds back from the brink of extinction. Condor Cam II included a weigh scale data logging system that would be activated each time a condor landed on the scale. Other features are described in our How Condor Cam Works page.

TerraFocus fully developed this more complete system for VWS’s new Pinnacles release site but a change in the location of the site and other administrative issues prevented us from being able to install the system there. The remoteness of Ventana's Big Sur site and The Peregrine Fund's Vermillion Cliffs site preclude being able to install the Internet links. So the Internet link-up is not possible at this time.