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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 (5/31/2014)

"Condors of the Canyon"
Listen to audiocast
Daily CA condor ranger talk times on both rims

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

"Wings Over The Canyon"
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 2014 (May 21 through Sept. 1, 2014) 4:30 p.m. daily
South Rim - Fall 2014 (Sept. 2 through Nov. 30, 2014) 11:00 a.m. daily
Lookout Studio - Parking is limited. Ride the Village Loop shuttle bus.

North Rim - 2014 Season (May 15 through October 15, 2014) 4:30 p.m.daily
Grand Canyon Lodge
(back porch fireplace)

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



July 2, 2014 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts -
Here you may download an updated condor chart and tables (05 31 2014)

In addition to this:

- Condor 641 is awaiting release from the Vermilion Cliffs pen.

Newly released condors:
- April 18, 2013: condors 657, 669, and 677
- June 2, 2014: condors 679 and 680

Two deaths occurred were confirmed over the spring months:

- 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:

- 302; 11-year-old female
- 273; 12-year-old male


- Condors 266 and 296 tending to chick 754; estimated hatch date April 9, 2014. Nest near Vermilion Cliffs.

- Condor 293 and 389 first nest failed, second egg hatched May 30, 2014.

- Condor 342 and 383, first nest failed, second egg hatched date May 26, 2014.

- Condor 337 and 409, estimated hatch date April 26, 2014. Nest in Zion NP. First wild condor chick in Utah!

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

World Total: 437

Wild Population: 231

- AZ/UT Population: 70

- California Population: 132

- 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.

cross sections of non-lead and lead bullets

Copper for Condors - Field Report

Written by Collin Haffey, June 24, 2014

Chris Parish, wildlife biologist, demonstrates and compares the performance of lead and non-lead bullets. He also discusses the potential impacts of lead bullet fragmentation on wildlife and humans.


Did You Know?


The more recent Kaibab limestone caprock, on the rims of the Grand Canyon, formed 270 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest rocks within the Inner Gorge at the bottom of Grand Canyon date to 1.84 billion years ago. Geologists currently estimate the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years.