Nesting California Condors at Navajo Bridge
13 Jun 2017, 10:37 AM,
Nesting California Condors at Navajo Bridge
Last week I conducted my two annual Breeding Bird Survey routes in northern Arizona which took me through Cameron, the Navajo Bridge, Jacob Lake, near the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon, Fredonia and to the Toroweep Ranger Station. As usual, highlights were many including Coconino Co. only known nesting population of VERMILION FLYCATCHER along Altus Lane in Fredonia. Had a nice male there 6 June. The fountain at Jacob Lake (among the cabins behind the gas station) was not running, but still provided great photo ops for the local birds species coming to the small pool of water that remained. This included CASSIN'S FINCHES, PINE SISKINS, and RED CROSSBILLS. On FR-610 along the border of Kaibab NF and Grand Canyon NP boundary, I had to swerve to miss a tiny chick that was marching across the gravel road. I quickly pulled over and noted a hen DUSKY GROUSE with four chicks that were likely only a few days old. There was a male AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER in sections of fresh burned forests within a mile or so of Saddle Mountain trailhead. Fire had swept through this area last summer.

Not sure if many are aware of this or not, but visitors to the Navajo Bridge have a very rare opportunity to see an active CALIFORNIA CONDOR nest site, and with a scope, can often actually observe, with a little eye straining, the downy, golden nestling that hatched 30 May. On 8 June around noon, the Peregrine Fund staff were on the bridge with a small table and condor information and a spotting scope directed at the nest site. Visitors were encouraged to view through the scope. As I arrived, timing was also good as five condors flew in, circled low over and even below you on the bridge before perching on sections of the Hwy. bridge or nearby ledges. My eBird checklist with some photos can be seen at: The nest is on the east side (Navajo Nation side) of Marble Canyon and upstream (north) of Navajo Bridge. 

Hope to see you in the field...

Troy Corman
Phoenix, AZ

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