Once you see a California Condor in flight, I bet you’ll agree with me that this majestic bird should be the amazing animal of the week every week.
You probably noticed that the condor doesn’t flap its wings much except to take off from the ground. They have proportionally small sternums which means that most of their flight is gliding and soaring rather than flapping. The California condor is the largest North American land bird, weighing up to 26 pounds with a 9.8 foot wingspan! They are bald headed with black feathers with patches of white and are among the longest living birds in the world with a lifespan of up to 60 years.
Condors live in coniferous forests and nest in cliffs or large trees. They lack a syrinx which is the vocal organ of birds which means the only sounds they make are grunts and hisses. These sounds help them establish the social hierarchy in their groups and allows the dominant birds to eat first.
Male condors woo females by turning their heads red and puffing out their neck feathers while slowly spreading his wings and approaching the female. If she lowers her head, they mate for life. Their eggs are bluish white and a female lays one egg every other year in late winter or early spring. Both parents will help incubate the egg which hatches after about 2 months. Chicks can fly when they are about 6 months old.
Condors are scavengers which actually contributes to their death. Carrion sometimes contain lead from exploding ammunition. This poisons the condors when they eat them. Condors can also be poisoned by eating carrion which contain microtrash, small pieces of garbage which make their way up the food chain.
This amazing animal became extinct in the wild in 1987 when all remaining individuals were captured to begin a captive breeding program which was successful in releasing condors back into the wild 10 years later and a hatchling occurring in the wild 18 years later.
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