The Ventana Wildlife Society, an organization dedicated to releasing captive-bred California condors since 1997, operates the Big Sur Condor Nest Camera. The organization installs cameras in the nests of its sanctuary and sometimes in the wild.
Birds are most active from late morning to early afternoon. Additionally, if you see a condor while looking at the camera, we encourage you to track your sighting on Condor Spotter, an online guide that allows you to identify free-flying California condors via their vinyl wing tags.
Other animal species that may appear on cameras include cougars, bobcats, black-tailed deer, bald and golden eagles, crows and bluebirds.
Where do the California Condors live?
California condors live in the coastal hills and mountains of California, around the Grand Canyon in Arizona and near southern Utah, and on the northern peninsula of Baja California in Mexico. And in recent years, some of the larger birds have wandered as far south as Wyoming and central New Mexico.
The condor’s range during the Pleistocene era, which ended 10,000 years ago, covered much of North America, but by the early 1800s it had shrunk to the only Pacific coast.
What is the habitat of the California Condor?
The habitat of the California condor is in the mountainous areas of southern California and in the region near the Grand Canyon. Birds need large open areas of remote country for feeding, roosting and nesting.
Foraging habitat includes open grasslands and oak savannah foothills where large animals, such as cattle and deer, live. These locations can be far from nesting grounds, and condors can travel up to 150 miles a day in search of food.
Where does the California condor’s nest come from?
California condors typically nest in cavities in cliffs and sometimes in tall trees like coast redwood or giant sequoia. According to All About Birds, condor pairs have multiple nesting sites, and the female will ultimately decide the site.
The eggs are laid on the soil of the site and the birds build piles of debris such as rocks and gravel. The piles are about three feet wide and eight inches deep.
How many eggs do condors lay?
Female California condors lay one egg per nesting cycle. Young condors cannot fly for the first five to six months of life and may continue to depend on their parents for another six months. The duration of the addiction causes the parent birds to skip a nesting cycle before trying again.
Adult condors may attempt to lay a second egg if the first is lost early enough in the breeding season. It takes four to five weeks for a replacement egg to be laid.
What do California Condors eat?
California condors eat carrion from land and sea mammals such as deer, cattle, sea lions, and whales. They obtain calcium by swallowing bone fragments from carcasses.
Condors find food by sight, not by smell, or by observing other scavengers from the sky. The birds will scare away other bird species, but they are generally tolerant of each other when feeding.
Birds can hold up to three pounds of food in their culture (an enlarged part of the esophagus) to help maintain body weight between feeding days.
How to identify California Condors?
Identify California condors by their large, broad wings, with long primary feathers making their wingtips look like fingers. In flight, their body is noticeably bulky, and their head appears small.
The California condor is the largest bird species in North America. Both males and females can reach around 4 feet in length, weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, and their wingspans can measure over 9 feet.
Adult condors are all black with white underwing patches, with bare heads and orange-yellow necks. Immature condors are grayer with darker heads. The birds reach their adult coloration around the age of 7 years.
Which is bigger, a California condor or an eagle?
California condors are larger than golden and bald eagles.
To tell the difference between golden eagles and California condors in flight, note that eagles do not have continuous white patches under their wings like condors do.
Look for the white head and tail feathers of adult bald eagles. California condors have black tail feathers and their heads are featherless.
What is the difference between a California Condor and a Turkey Vulture?
There are several differences between California condors and red-headed vultures. Condors are much larger and have black primary and secondary feathers with white streaks, while red-headed vultures have white feathers under their wings with black tips.
What is the conservation status of California Condors?
The conservation status of California condors is critically endangered, and although the population is growing, it is still dependent on human conservation efforts.
The population passed the critically endangered threshold in 2019, but BirdLife International will not consider downlisting the species until 2024 due to a five-year rule on species downlisting.
The United States officially listed the species as endangered in 1967, and fewer than 25 remained by 1982. In 1987, the remaining California condors were taken into captivity for an intensive conservation and breeding program aimed at saving the species. In 1992, captive-bred birds began to be introduced into the wild, and by 2008 there were more condors in the wild than in captivity. All California condors in the wild are descended from this original group.
Each September on National Public Lands Day, the Peregrine Fund releases captive-bred juveniles from a release site at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.
How many California Condors are there?
There are a total of 504 California Condors in the world. As many as 329 live in the wild and 175 are in captivity, according to the US Department of Interior’s 2020 Annual Population Survey.
In 2019, the population numbered 519 birds, with 337 in the wild, meaning the population has declined in 2020 – the first time since at least 2010.
What Killed the California Condor?
Lead poisoning is a leading killer of known causes of California condor death, accounting for about half of all bird deaths in the wild from 1992 to 2020, according to the Federal Wildlife Study. population of 2020.
Birds consume lead by eating carcasses of animals that have been killed with lead ammunition. In 2013, California passed a law requiring the use of lead-free ammunition by hunters. In 2019, the state fully implemented it.
Other common threats to the wild condor population include poisoned baits, environmental pollutants, and collisions with power lines and buildings.
Learn more about condors
Species Profile: California Condor, an endangered species, after 20 years of recovery efforts
BirdWatching was a source for Jeopardy
North America was once home to tens of thousands of condors
A first for Utah: two condor chicks in one summer
Condors back in the Pacific Northwest
Peregrine Fund Information on California Condors