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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 (3/19/2014)

"Condors of the Canyon"
Listen to audiocast
Daily 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

"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 - Spring 2014 (March 1 - May 21, 2014) 4:00 p.m.daily
Lookout Studio - Parking is limited. Ride the Village Loop shuttle bus.

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



March 19, 2014 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts,

Here you may download the updated condor tag chart & tables. Condor Chart 3-19-2014 (211 kb PDF)

In addition to this:

Three birds are still awaiting release from the Vermilion Cliffs pen including condors 641, 657, and 669.

Three deaths occurred and were confirmed over the winter months:

299: ten-year-old male; died on 12/30/2014 in Zion NP; cause of death still being determined

287: eleven-year-old male, died on 2/6/2014 of lead poisoning.

257: twelve-year-old male; died on 2/5/2014 of lead poisoning.

The trapping and treatment period during the 2013-14 lead season resulted in most birds being trapped of which, 13 were treated for lead poisoning. Seven birds were not trapped, four of which have gone missing and are presumed dead including condors 350, 158, 720, and 392. The news of male condor 350 is especially sad for Grand Canyon National Park. Condor 350 was the second wild-fledged chick in the park and the third in AZ/UT since reintroduction in 1996. 350 hatched in 2004 in a cave on the Battleship formation.

Breeding status update:

Three out of the four 2013 chicks successfully fledged last fall including condors 719, 722, and 723. Based on sightings and behavior of their parents, all 3 of these chicks are doing well. The forth chick, 720 is missing and presumed dead as its father, condor 158.

Condors 296 and 266 started to incubate an egg around mid-February near the Vermilion Cliffs.

Condor 389 and 293 attempted to nest, but the nest has failed.

Current population numbers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service as of

January 31, 2014:

World Total: 410

Wild Population: 232

· AZ/UT Population: 75

· California Population: 128

· Baja California/Mexico Population: 29

Captive Population: 178

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

Visit the Condor Update Archive for past updates.

cross sections of non-lead and lead bullets
Watch the Lead Vs. Copper Bullet Video

In this video, Pinnacles N.M. Wildlife Biologist, Jim Petterson, and a group of other hunters compare the performance of lead and non-lead bullets.

He also discusses the potential impacts of lead bullet fragmentation on wildlife and humans. Watch the Video here...

Did You Know?


There are different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park, including professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance; and self-guided, or "private" river trips, made available to the public through a weighted lottery. More...