California's first-ever live condor cam launched Monday, giving scientists studying the endangered vulture-like birds a reprieve from making the hour-plus trek up to Big Sur. Careful, though, it has a "graphic feeding" warning.
"We [had] to drive one-and-a-half hours up a dirt road behind five locked gates just to get to this place," Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society, told the San Jose Mercury News of the new condor cam
. "It's an all-day thing. So this is an amazing tool for us to help monitor condors in the wild."
The solar-powered cam
, installed by the Oakland Zoo and Ventana Wildlife Society and funded with help from a FedEx donation, gives researchers and the public a front-row seat to watch the large North American land birds feed and preen.
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"We put the camera right on top of one of the main feeding areas so we could zoom down and get identification of each individual," Sorenson said.
By observing the condors with help from the camera, Sorenson and her team can make sure the birds aren't suffering from any medical issues, such as lead poisoning from eating carcasses with bullets in them.
There are only 429 condors alive today, and about half of them live in zoos, according to the Mercury News.
The condor cam follows in the footsteps of the popular panda cam at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the sea otter cam at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
But viewers beware: The condor cam is not for the faint of heart. Attached to the live-steaming video is a warning that reads, "Viewer discretion advised. May contain graphic feeding images," as the birds are reportedly fed stillborn calves several times a week.
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