California Condor

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gymnogyps Californians 

California Condor

The California Condor is one of the most endangered species in the world. The population of this stunning raptor declined due to lead and chemical poisonings, shooting and collisions with power lines. Captive breeding programs are active since the late 20th century, and several condors are regularly released in California and Arizona.

Both sexes are similar. Adults have black plumage overall, except the white underwing coverts and the white edges on tertial flight feathers. A black ruff made with long feathers is visible around the head. Head and neck are bare, with pinkish-orange to red colors according to the bird’s mood.

Immature has gray bare skin areas. Juveniles have mottled underwing coverts. The hooked bill is grey to horn-coloured, with pale orange-red cere. Eyes are reddish-brown. Legs and feet are pale pinkish-grey with bare tarsi.

Measures about 46.1 to 52.8 inches in length, with a wingspan of 109.1 inches. They weigh about 7000 to 9900 grams.

CALL: They are usually silent, but can issue a variety of hisses and snorts particularly when defending nest sites. Newborn chicks hiss, wheeze, and grunt at adults.

OTHER SOUNDS: Wing movements by these giant birds can generate sounds heard over a half-mile away.

They eat carrion of land and marine mammals such as deer, cattle, pigs, rabbits, sea lions, and whales. They swallow bone chips and marine shells to meet their calcium needs. They favor small to medium-sized carcasses.

Preferred habitats are mountains and gorges, and also hillsides, creating updrafts that allow these large raptors to soar.

Lives in reduced range in California. They have been reintroduced in the coastal mountains of Southern and Central California (Big Sur) and in Northern Arizona in the Grand Canyon.

California Condor nests in caves or crevices in cliffs, often near open sites for easier landing. The female lays a single pale blue-green bleaching to white or creamy egg. Both parents incubate during 55-60 days and share all the nesting duties. The nestling period is 163 to 180 days.


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