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 (02/24/2015)

"Condors of the Canyon"
Listen to audiocast
Summer 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.
 
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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

 
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"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 - Summer 2015 (May 21 through Sept. 7, 2015) 4:30 p.m. daily.
Lookout Studio - Parking is limited. Ride the Village Loop shuttle bus.

North Rim - Ranger programs will resume on May 15, 2015
Note: condor programs are not scheduled during the winter and spring months.


 
 

February 23, 2015 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts -
Here you may download the updated condor chart and tables (02 23 2015)

Vermilion Cliffs Release Pen:
There are currently no condors in release pen.

DEATHS:
One death has been confirmed over the winter months:

  • 486: 6-year-old male; died on 12/30/2014; cause of death TBD
  • Cause of death still being determined for 537: 5-year-old female; died on 2/2014.
  • Cause of death still being determined for 234: 14-year-old male; died on 5/22/2014 in O'Neil Gulch, UT.
  • Cause of death still being determined for 299: 10-year-old male; died on 12/30/2013 in Zion NP


BREEDING STATUS UPDATE:

  • No eggs confirmed laid yet, but the egg season is rapidly approaching. Unfortunately, many breeders have been and are still being treated from lead poisoning which often interrupts natural breeding activity.


Current population numbers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service as of October 31, 2014:

World Total: 425

Wild Population: 219

AZ/UT Population: 74

California Population: 116

Baja California/Mexico Population: 29

Captive Population: 206


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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