Bird of the Week, April 15, 2011
California Condor

California Condor by Susan Haig

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The California Condor is North America's largest flying bird, with an impressive wingspan of over nine feet and a weight of over 20 pounds. Condors are long-lived birds; they can survive up to 60 years in the wild. They become sexually mature at six or seven years of age, and lay only one egg per year.


By 1987, habitat degradation, poisoning, and shooting had almost extirpated the California Condor in the wild, and so the 22 individuals remaining were captured for captive breeding programs. These programs were successful, and brought the California Condor back from the brink of extinction; condors are now being reintroduced into the wild each year. Unfortunately, lead poisoning, mostly from spent ammunition, continues to be a major threat to these reintroduced populations.


Besides lead poisoning, condors are at risk from collisions with power lines. Ravens and Golden Eagles can also pose a threat to eggs and nestlings respectively. Reintroduced populations are still dependent on human intervention for their continued survival.


Learn more about ABC's efforts to prevent lead poisoning of condors and other birds and support our efforts

Photo: California Condor by Susan Haig; Range Map: NatureServe