• View of Grand Canyon National Park at sunset from the South Rim

    Grand Canyon

    National Park Arizona

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 (11/17/2014)

"Condors of the Canyon"
Listen to audiocast
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 2014 (Sept. 2 through Nov. 30, 2014) 11:00 a.m. Th/Sa/Su only.
Lookout Studio - Parking is limited. Ride the Village Loop shuttle bus.

North Rim - All North Rim Ranger programs have ended for the winter.
The North Rim of the park will completely close on December 1, 2014.

Note: condor programs are not scheduled during the winter months.


 

 

November 17, 2014 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts -
Here you may download the updated condor chart and tables (11 17 2014)

In addition to this:

Newly released condors:

  • 698: 1-year-old
  • 701: 1-year-old
  • 707: 1-year-old
  • 641: 1-year-old male
  • 721: 1-year-old


DEATHS:

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

Two more condors are missing and presumed dead including condors:

  • 668; 2-year-old female; last contact April 7, 2014
  • 669; 2-year-old male; last contact May 25, 2014
  • 655; 2-year-old female; last contact March 21, 2014


BREEDING STATUS UPDATE:

  • Condors 266 and 296 tending to chick 754; (Vermilion Cliffs chick); 754 fledged around the beginning of October and is already been feeding independently at the release site.
  • Condor 293 and 389 first nest failed, second egg hatched May 30, 2014. Chick 766 (Cane Canyon chick) successfully fledged and is doing good.
  • Condor 337 and 409, nested in Zion National Park and hatched chick 765. Unfortunately 765 has not been seen since early October and is presumed dead.
  • Condor 342 and 383, first and second nest failed,


Current population numbers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service as of September 30, 2014:

World Total: 432

Wild Population: 232

AZ/UT Population: 76

California Population: 127

Baja California/Mexico Population: 29

Captive Population: 200

Lastly, I wanted to briefly recognize one of Grand Canyon's Interpretation Rangers, Patricia Brown. Pat recently passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. Pat's contribution and dedication to the recovery of condors was one of pure passion. She continuously educated herself on all-things condors and then, in return, educated the visitors about these amazing birds. Her condor talks opened the world of the condor to the visitors and taught them what they need to do to help these birds survive and become recovered. I will truly miss Pat. She was a cherished co-worker, a true friend, and gentle soul.


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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