Endangered Neighbor: California Condor

California Condor Juvenile Male in Pinnacles National Monument

Juvenile California Condor male, Pinnacles National Monument, California

Our most Endangered Neighbor is the California Condor with less than 200 individuals in the wild (There are about 181 in captivity). Like the Sea Otter, the low California Condor numbers are due mainly to historical reasons. Many were shot since they were seen as threats to livestock (sadly not true as they are strict carrion eaters) and for museum specimens. Then, as for so many other bird species, came the problem of pesticides, specifically DDT. It caused their egg shells to be too thin, causing them to break.

Soaring Adult California Condor in Big Sur

Soaring juvenile California Condor, Big Sur, California

Though Condor numbers are on the rise the still face modern day threats:

    • Poaching is still an issue (how is this possible?!?!)
    • Habitat destruction

Dying of lead poisoning due to eating hunter killed carrion that contains lead bullets

Junile California Condor male flying in Pinnacles

California Condor juvenile male flying, Pinnacles National Monument, California

Though these guys are not as cuddly and cute looking as our beloved otters, there are still people who are devoting their life to saving this amazing species. Mainly, the people from the Ventana Wildlife Society‘s Condor Project are responsible for their increase in numbers by managing and conducting a few different projects.

    • They collect thin-shelled, wild-laid eggs and replace them with viable captive-bred eggs
    • They treat lead-poisoned birds

They monitor the safety and health of each condor through radio telemetry

Replacing batteries on radio transmitter on California Condor

Replacing batteries on radio transmitter on California Condor

Monitoring California Condor at Release Site

Monitoring California Condor at Release Site, Big Sur, California

California Condor release in Big Sur

California Condor release, Big Sur, California

Cleaing out Rats in California Condor holding site

They (here Lyla Hunt) also get to clean out the dead rats used as food for the California Condors in their holding pen, Big Sur, California – yummy!

Radio Tracking California Condor in Big Sur

Radio tracking California Condor, Big Sur, California

In fact, the wild flock in central California, aka along the Big Sur coast is a direct result of their dynamic efforts.

Now as always, there are plenty of little steps we can all take to help condors out. Trust me, if for no other reason than this one, you want these guys to survive to see one of them soar near you. Their impressive nine foot wing span is awe inspiring!

So here are the steps you and me should be taking!

  • Adopt a Condor
  • Immediately report poaching activities to the Department of Fish and Game at 1 888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258)
  • Hunt with non-lead bullets
  • Finally, there are limited and irregular volunteer opportunities with the Ventana Wilderness Society (call them at 831-455-9514)
California Condor and Turkey Vulture

California Condor and Turkey Vulture flying, Big Sur, California — oh yeah, there is a size difference 🙂

 

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