Animals

California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus)

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By Ginger and Tali

California Condors are endangered birds that are at home in California, Canada, Mexico, and even Florida and New York. They are huge with up to a 9.8 foot long wingspan, and a weight up to 26 pounds. These birds can live up to 60 years old, making them one of the longest living birds in the world. The condors have black feathers, some white feathers underneath their wings, and heads that are bare with no feathers. The California Condors are much larger than Turkey vultures so you can tell them apart.  

They are one of the rarest birds, at about only 463 total in both the wild and in captivity. The condors are very endangered due to pollution, illegal hunting, habitat loss, and lead poisoning. We can do many things to help California Condors, such as being lead-free and leaving no trace.

On our 6th grade overnight trip to Pinnacles National Park, we got lucky enough to see these condors. We saw them when we were hiking in the Bear Gulch parking lot, and when we were hiking to Scout Peak. When we reached the top of Scout Peak, we would see them flying by very close. We could see them a lot better than when we were at a lower elevation. The condors were looking for food, along with some vultures. In Pinnacles, there are currently 27 condors being managed by the national park. They have joined with the 35 condors in Big Sur and became one larger flock.

The California Condors eat carcasses of dead animals. They can not smell, so how can they find their food? The California Condors find their food by looking for other birds that eat carrion, which is decaying dead animals. They look for birds that are flying around an area,  Turkey vultures eat carcasses too, and unlike these condors, the Turkey vultures can smell.

It was amazing to see these condors in the wild, where they are so rare. If you are into birds and want to see California Condors, I recommend going to Pinnacles. Even though they seem so rare, you see a lot of them in Pinnacles. Pinnacles is a beautiful place, with lots to see and do, including hiking, rock climbing, camping, exploring caves, and birding.  To learn more about these condors, go to this link: https://defenders.org/california-condor/basic-facts

Categories: Animals

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