California Condors

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California Condor chick #87 on S Rim of Grand Canyon NP.

A young California condor in the canyon

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Jump to the latest Notes from the Field Condor Update
Download Condor Tag Chart and Tables (11/18/2015)

"Condors of the Canyon"
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Fall CA condor ranger talk times on South Rim

Regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is the largest land bird in North America with a wingspan up to 9 1/2 feet and weighing up to 23 pounds. Adults are primarily black except for triangle-shaped patches of bright white underneath their wings. These patches are visible when condors are flying overhead and offer a key identification characteristic.

Males and females are identical in size and plumage. The bare heads of condors are grayish-black as juveniles and turn a dull orange-pink as adults. Condors are members of the New World vulture family and are opportunistic scavengers, feeding exclusively on dead animals such as deer, cattle, rabbits, and large rodents.
 
Using thermal updrafts, condors can soar and glide at up to 50 miles per hour and travel 100 miles or more per day searching for food while expending little energy.

When not foraging for food, condors spend most of their time perched at a roost. Cliffs, tall conifers, and snags serve as roost sites in Grand Canyon National Park.
 
Mature California Condor 33. NPS photo by Michael Quinn

A mature California condor #33

NPS photo by Michael Quinn

Condors become sexually mature at about six years of age and most mate for life.

Nest sites are often found in caves and rock crevices. Condors do not build nests. Instead, an egg about 5 inches in length and weighing around 10 ounces is deposited on bare ground. Condors typically lay a single egg every other year. The egg hatches after 56 days of incubation and both parents share responsibility for incubation and for feeding the nestling. Young condors leave the nest when they are 5 to 6 months old.

There are currently 73 condors flying free in northern Arizona and southern Utah, including several that were raised in wild nest caves within or near to the Grand Canyon.


 

The rest come from the captive breeding program. Even the wild-raised birds are mostly now wearing numbered tags and transmitters. The numbers allow you to learn more specifics about any bird you get a close look at.

So look out for these magnificent birds soaring on their 9-foot (nearly 3-meter) wingspan over Grand Canyon National Park. During the warmer months they are seen regularly from the South Rim and frequently also from the North Rim. On the South Rim, try scanning the cliffs and Douglas-fir trees below the Bright Angel Lodge late in the afternoon. In this area some condors select overnight roosts from late April through July and to some degree from March through October.

More About the Condor Re-introduction Program

 
condor-talk-1144
"Condor Talk"
What highly endangered bird with a 9-foot (2.7-m) wingspan is often spotted at Grand Canyon? The California condor ! Learn about these majestic birds and their reintroduction to Grand Canyon during a ranger talk on the canyon's rim.

South Rim - Fall 2015 (Sept. 8, through Nov. 30, 2015) 1:30 p.m. daily.
Village Amphitheater - On the rim between Kachina & Thunderbird Lodges.



 
 

November 18 , 2015 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts -
Here you may download the updated condor chart and tables (11 18 2015)

in addition to this:

VERMILION CLIFFS RELEASE PEN:
Condors 535, 613, 691, 741, 743, 752, 761, 763

DEATHS:

1 new death to report: Condor 122 died on 10/8/2015; cause of death is shooting (not yet official) and is under investigation. The following are updates to deaths previously reported.

  • 537: 5-year-old female;died on 2/2014. Cause of death unknown
  • 234: 14-year-old male;died on 5/22/2014 in O'Neil Gulch, UT;Cause of death was lead poisoning
  • 299: 10-year-old male;died on 12/30/2013 in Zion NP; Cause of death unknown

BREEDING STATUS UPDATE:

  • Condor 316 is tending to her chick near the Tower of Ra in Grand Canyon. The father,122, died in October. Chick has been observed at the nest entrance and is looking about ready to fledge any day.
  • Condors 187 and 280 continue to attend their chick on the Battleship formation in Grand Canyon. We are still waiting for the chick to fledge.
  • Condor 123 and 297 nicely tricked biologist in believing they were attending a chick earlier this year. However we believe now that what we saw was a turkey vulture chick in which Condor 297 showed great interest. Both 297 and 123 spent the majority of their summer in Utah, thus confirming they were not nesting.
  • Condors 337 and 409 are likely nesting in Zion based on GPS transmitter data. Nest has not been confirmed yet due to private land issues.

Current AZ/UT population number: 73


Janice Stroud-Settles, Wildlife Biologist
Division of Science and Resource Management
Grand Canyon National Park
 

Visit the "Notes From the Field" Condor Update Archive for past updates.

 
 

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