See a California Condor Nest From Navajo Bridge
June 20, 2017 at 5:21 am
A California condor stands outside its nest in Marble Canyon. In the cave to the right, its mate and chick are visible. | Courtesy of John Sherman
John "Verm" Sherman loves California condors. As we've reported in Arizona Highways, Sherman, a frequent contributor to the magazine, has been on a quest to photograph every condor in Arizona. Along the way, he's gotten to know these unique and rare birds — and he recently told us of an equally rare opportunity to see a condor family in the birds' natural environment.
"Condors 354 and 496 picked a nesting site in clear view from Navajo Bridge," Sherman says in an email. "This gives the public a never-before-had chance to personally watch a condor chick grow up in the wild."
Sherman photographed the nest May 30 and saw an egg inside; the next day, the egg had hatched, revealing the newly designated Condor 891. He plans on following the chick until it fledges, which probably will happen around November. Until then, it will remain in the nest in Marble Canyon, upstream from Navajo Bridge.
Sherman says biologists with the condor recovery program are frequently at the bridge with spotting scopes that the public can use to see the nest. Visitors also can donate to the program, which Sherman says has been decimated by budget cuts this year.
Sherman says it's hard to see the chick in the morning because of the harsh light, but in the afternoon, between 4:30 p.m. and sunset, if you have a good pair of binoculars, you should be able to get a glimpse of the condors and their chick upstream from the bridge. Keep in mind that drone flying is strictly prohibited in the area.
Through a variety of conservation measures and reintroduction programs, the condors now number more than 400 in the wild — up from just 22 in 1987.
As for Sherman's quest to photograph every condor, he recently bagged his "white whale": Condor 203, which was the last of the condors that were in the wild when Sherman decided to photograph them all. But his quest has taken long enough that several new captive-bred condors are now flying free in Arizona. And Sherman has yet to photograph one of them — Condor 850. So his search continues.
All photos courtesy of John Sherman.