Friday, November 21, 2008

California Condors

(Photo: A California Condor in Big Sur that was part of a flock of ten birds. Photo used with permission of Brenner Photography.)

California Condors, the big birds seen as buzzards or circling vultures in old movies, were nearly extinct when the last nine were caught 20 years ago and taken to Southern California zoos for captive breeding as part of a recovery program. Now we have about 300 condors – more than two dozen of them once again soaring over Big Sur, including the first two chicks born there in more than a century. Others are in other parts of California and Arizona – including the Pinnacles east of the Salinas Valley – or still in the zoos, cared for as breeding stock in the recovery program. Thousands existed before the 1849 Gold Rush brought miners, settlers and hunters that gradually eliminated the large scavengers, but some can now be seen from Highway 1, usually near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

(Video of California Condors in Big Sur)

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