California Condor Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-106
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Masters of air currents, California Condors majestically sailed the skies for thousands of years until the 1900’s when their populations plummeted due to lead and pesticide poisoning, shooting and habitat loss. By 1983 only 22 survived in the wild. This prompted a controversial decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring the last California Condors into captivity in 1987 for a breeding and release program that continues today.

As the largest bird in North America, California Condors possess an impressive 9 1/2 foot wingspan, an average weight of 20 pounds and longevity of 60 years. Becoming sexually mature at 6 years, they only nest every other year, laying a single egg.

Condors are highly intelligent and social birds, inquisitive and playful. They don’t have a syrinx (voice box) like most birds, but communicate with hisses, growls, grunts and body language. They have keen eyesight and fly up to 150 miles in search of carrion, preferring carcasses of large mammals like bison, deer, whales and seals.

By 2004, through the dedicated work of individuals, government agencies and private foundations, the Condor Recovery Project has increased the population to nearly 200 birds; 78 of those live in the wild in California and Arizona and are beginning to breed and lay eggs. Now California Condors cast their shadow over the land as biologist monitor their movements, working to reduce the threats of poisoning, poaching and pollution, hoping that these magnificent birds will endure on their own.

artwork by John Sill

text by Kara Jean Hagedorn

Tags: birds,