A cliff-dwelling California condor chick in Ventura County, Calif., died in late August from a West Nile virus infection. The chick is one of only four of its species born in the wild this year.
The 3-month-old bird's illness was complicated by pneumonia, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which is administering a recovery program for these highly endangered birds.
Knowing the species' vulnerability to West Nile virus, FWS scientists had inoculated the chick's parents with a condor-specific West Nile vaccine in 2003 and 2004.
"We know through testing on captive condors that maternal immunity is transferred to the chicks," notes project leader for the recovery program Marc Weitzel of the FWS Hopper Mountain Complex outside Ven