I saw a young California condor. It was 40 days old – it was also the first condor to be hatched in Pinnacles National Monument in over 100 years!
During a recent hike at Pinnacles National Monument, my family and I were blessed to see, just forty feet above us, a California condor with roughly a nine-foot wingspan glide over our heads. Whoa! It was over in several seconds but we were able to snap a picture (shown).
A few minutes later down the trail, we approached a trail junction. At the junction were spotting scopes pointed at an impressive rock wall about half a mile in the distance. Manning the scopes were biologists and interpretive volunteers helping visitors to see a young condor.
Looking through the scope I could see a light grey, fuzzy looking young bird resting in the crevice of a ledge. According to the interpreters, this youngster was about the size of a duck.
What is impressive about seeing these condors is that it highlights the work that has taken decades to accomplish.
After years of overhunting, Lead and Strychnine poisoning and habitat loss the condor population plummeted. In the mid 1980s, only 22 condors remained. The last condors were captured and placed in a captive breeding program to increase their numbers. In the mid 1990s releases began in California and have now expanded into Arizona and in Mexico. As of today, the total condor population is about 500 individuals; roughly 350 are in the wild while another 150 remain in the breeding program. Slowly the condors are returning to their historic territories, including Pinnacles.
We inquired about the condor that flew over our heads a few minutes earlier. According to the scientist, this was the hatchling’s Dad.
To learn more about the Pinnacles Condor Program visit: