Support Us Button Widget

Oregon Zoo researchers use ‘smart egg’ to monitor endangered California condor chicks

New data will inform efforts to recreate the optimal conditions for the birds to healthily hatch and grow.

A pair of hands touches a smart egg used by Oregon Zoo to monitor California condors.

Rocks were glued to the inside of the shell to match a condor egg’s weight exactly.

Photo by Michael Durham/Oregon Zoo

The use of innovative technology at the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation is no yolk. In a research effort that made national news, the Clackamas County facility known for its success in boosting California condor populations partnered with Texas A&M University to 3D print a “smart egg.”

Want to take a crack at what that means? Well, these electronic devices mimic a condor egg, recording sound, temperature, movement, and other data straight from the nest.

“We know unhatched chicks can hear their parents while they’re still inside the egg,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s senior condor keeper. “Playing them sounds they’d be hearing inside the nest is one more way we can provide the best space possible for them to grow.”

Two dummy eggs have been in use since mid-February. Read more about the “double clutching” process and how seabird field studies inspired this idea.