California Condors

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 (04/07/2016)

"Condors of the Canyon"
Listen to audiocast
Spring 2016 California 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.
 
Mature California Condor with a pink head and black feathers perched on the edge of a limestone cliff. Reddish canyon rocks beyond.
A mature California condor (#33)
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.

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

 

 
Park ranger on the canyon rim conducting a condor program and holding up a photo of a condor in flight.
Condor Talk - Ranger Program

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 2016 (March 1, through May 27, 2015) 1:00 p.m. daily.
Village Amphitheater - On the rim between Kachina & Thunderbird Lodges.

 
 

 

April 7, 2016 - NOTES FROM THE FIELD, Condor Update

Condor Enthusiasts -
Here you may download the updated condor chart and tables (04 07 2016)

in addition to this:

VERMILION CLIFFS RELEASE PEN:
Condors 535, 613, 691, 761, 727

DEATHS:
1 new death to report: Male condor 272 died on 1/10/2016; cause of death is lead poisoning.

2015 BREEDING STATUS UPDATE:
All 4 of the 2015 nests likely failed. We are still holding out hope that the Tower of Ra chick 808 is still alive. Chick 808 is the offspring of 122 and 316. 122 was shot this past fall and over the past month 316 has not been showing behavior that indicates she is not attending to the chick.

2016 BREEDING STATUS UPDATE:

  • Condors 337 and 409 are confirmed nesting in Zion National Park. Nest has been located near Bridge Mountain. Lay date is estimated to be February 28, 2016.
  • Condors 193 and 126/241 are confirmed nesting on the Vermilion Cliffs. Lay date is estimated to be March 6, 2016.
  • Condors 266 and 296 are confirmed nesting on the Vermilion Cliffs. Lay date is estimated to be March 18, 2016.
  • Condors 187 and 280 are likely nesting again on the Battleship formation. Nest location not confirmed yet. Estimated egg lay date of March 19, 2016.
  • Condor 123 and 297 are likely nesting on the Dana Butte formation. Nest location not confirmed yet. Estimated egg lay date of March 1, 2016.
  • Condor 423 and 521 are likely nesting on Newton Butte formation. Nest location not confirmed yet. Estimated egg lay date of March 16, 2016.

Current AZ/UT population number: 78


e-mail us,
Greg Holm
Wildlife Biologist
Division of Science and Resource Management
Grand Canyon National Park
 


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

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

(928) 638-7888
This is the main phone number for general park questions.

Contact Us