Natural Sightings #641 - Condor on Fire Cam.png

A California Condor is was captured by a video camera mounted on a PG&E tower in Bear Valley Springs.

Valerie Smith called our attention to this photo, courtesy of PG&E, of a California Condor that was captured by a video camera mounted on a PG&E tower in Bear Valley Springs.

This camera, called the El Rancho 1 camera, is part of the ALERTWildfire project. ALERTWildfire is a consortium of three universities — The University of Nevada, Reno, University of California San Diego, and the University of Oregon, which provide access to state-of-the-art Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders.

There are now more than 1,000 of these video cameras installed throughout California, and during the past five fire seasons (2016-2020), ALERTWildfire cameras have provided critical information for more than 1,500 wildfires.

The cameras are typically mounted on existing utility and communication infrastructure, like cell-phone towers or electrical transmission poles, which has allowed the system to be created very rapidly.

There are several different ALERTWildfire cameras mounted in the Tehachapi Mountains. You can visit the website and click on the "Sierra Nevada and Foothills" region and see images from cameras in our area. Nearby houses tend to be pixilated or blocked out to protect the privacy of residents.

This California Condor that happened to appear in the video feed from the Rancho cam is a 4-year-old male that was hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo. Apparently the PG&E tower was an attractive observation point from which to survey its surroundings.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: