adventures in nature

2015 august 30 – california CONDOR chick!

Quite a site, quite a sight! A day to remember.

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur, CA

Rites of passage, flights to come. Big day. Big sky. Many thanks.

This is a California Condor chick, almost ready to fledge, at a cliff near Big Sur in the Ventana Wilderness, part of Los Padres National Forest. An incredibly endangered bird, there are less than 500 in the world (of which only about 240 are free-flying and wild, with only about 70 in this area of California) – brought back from a population of just 22 remaining in 1987! Thanks to the incredible dedication and cooperation of many groups, these birds have a second chance.

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur, CA

The California Condor adult has a wingspan of almost 10 feet! They have the longest wingspan of any bird in North America, and there are only a few types of birds that weigh more (two types of swans). These birds live 60 years in the wild, and they are very social birds – the young take many months to leave the nest, and once they do they stay around to learn “condor life” from their parents and community for quite a while.

One flying above leaves me breathless, making it easier to hear the sound of the wind flowing through its feathers as it soars close over my head. It doesn’t seem possible that a bird this size can fly, until it leaps off a perch into the sky above the sea cliffs and extends those giant wings. THOSE WINGS! Seeing one flying above the redwood trees and this steep, rugged wilderness, I am instantly transported to another time, a time when things were much bigger and time moved a little bit slower. We could all use a little of that medicine.

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur

California Condor chick / Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur

These birds are still desperately in need of assistance to survive in the wild, the biggest risks being suitable habitat and having food that isn’t contaminated with lead bullets. Lead poisoning is one of the biggest risks to these birds’ survival, since they feed only on prey that is dead. Hunters and ranchers using non-lead bullets is a huge help, not just to these birds who are scavengers, but to all the scavengers including bears, foxes, coyotes, golden eagles, turkey vultures, bald eagles, jays, mice, and more. Keeping lead and all types of poisons out of the food chain is key to a healthy ecosystem. There are many incredible non-poison predator deterrent systems being developed that are incredibly effective and have minimal impact on the food chain. Check out Project Coyote for more great information about non-lethal predator control – and there are many other resources as well (contact me for more).

To help with the effort to restore condors to the skies, with a donation or just to see some really cool webcams and pictures, check out the Ventana Wildlife Society’s webpage and blog!

Thank you Condors and the rugged Ventana Wilderness for reminding me of what is true.

One response

  1. Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx♦xoxo

    September 2, 2015 at 11:37 am

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