California Condor Chocuyens at CI

California Condor display

By Elnora Kelly Tayag, Instruction and Outreach Librarian

California Condor Chocuyens (cho-KOO-yens) is currently on loan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and on display at CI’s John Spoor Broome Library.  Chocuyens, which is Chumash for “Valley of the Moon,” was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in May 1991.  As part of the California Condor Recovery Program, Chocuyens was one of four condors—two Californian and two Andean—released into the wild on October 10, 1991.  This marked the first time California condors were released into the wild since brought into captivity in 1987.

Strapped with wing tags and radio transmitters, the condors’ movements were monitored while flying freely in the Los Padres National Forest.  Approximately one year after his release, Chocuyens’ radio transmitter unexpectedly signaled his passing on October 7, 1992.  Biologists located Chocuyens and an autopsy confirmed he died from ingesting ethylene glycol, more commonly known as anti-freeze.   Chocuyens’ passing illustrates the challenges the recovery program faces such as condors coming in contact with poisons and power lines, and ultimately no adult condors in the wild to guide these young condors.  Despite these challenges, the Recovery Program has been successful in releasing more condors in the wild.  According to the USFWS there are approximately 40 condors flying free in the Los Padres National Forest and our local area.

Christopher Cogan, Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences & Resource Management, explains, “The last natural habitat for the California condor is in CI’s backyard. Three of our students are working at the USFWS and assisting with the Recovery Program. We have a natural laboratory to study this endangered species and it allows us to expose students to these birds and their habitat, to forge links with various federal agencies, and to create a community awareness of our local environmental treasures.”

Amy Denton, Chair and Associate Professor of Biology, describes the condor as the iconic California bird and is excited that Chocuyens’ presence at CI will create many interdisciplinary opportunities for student learning and engagement.  CI Biology Lecturer Angela Chapman, a bird biologist, initiated the efforts to bring Chocuyens to CI so that students, staff, faculty and the community can have the opportunity to learn more about California condors, their habitat, and the Recovery Program.

The electronic collection at the Broome Library includes the Birds of North America, a comprehensive database that covers over 716 species of birds in the USA (including Hawaii) and Canada in addition to images and video galleries.  The Library also subscribes to the quarterly international journal The Condor which was previously published as The Bulletin of the Cooper Ornithological Society.

The Broome Library would like to extend a very special thank you to Sheeler Moving & Storage, Inc. in Ventura, and Mel Sheeler, President, for generously donating their services and transporting condor Chocuyens safely.  The Library appreciates its relationship with Sheeler Moving & Storage, Inc. since they successfully moved the Library just two years prior.

Chocuyens will be on exhibit in the Millennium News Center at CI’s John Spoor Broome Library until February 2011.  For Library hours please call 805-437-8561.