California Condor

Category: Birds

The California condor is the largest land bird of North America. This bird is considered to be of the New World vulture family, which is related to other birds of prey, but not specifically close to the Old World vultures of Africa, Asia and Europe. These two lineages of raptors (birds of prey) developed similar traits due to convergent evolution. It was once thought that New Wold vultures were closely related to storks, but this has been shown through DNA analysis to be inaccurate.

The California Condor became extinct in 1987 in the wild, but was reintroduced to Arizona, Utah, and California.

California Condor

California Condor

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Aves

Order - Cathartiformes

Family - Cathartidae

Genus - Gymnogyps

Species - californianus

Common Names - California Condor.

Characteristics

The California condor is a very large bird, and is a member of the vulture family. This bird is black with small, random patches of white feathers underneath the wings. The California Condor is a scavenger, and like all vultures, feasts on dead animals. The California Condor measures approximately 43 to 55 inches tall and weighs 18 to 20 pounds. This bird has a wingspan of 18 to 20 feet.

Breeding

The California Condor begins to seek a mate when he reaches the age of adulthood at around six years of age. The female lays one egg every other year, between January and April. Both parents raise their offspring together. Baby California Condors do not leave their parents' nest until they are about two years of age.

Behavior

The California Condor is a hunter and feasts on carcasses of other animals. It will find small rodents and other animals to supplement its diet. The California Condor can travel over 150 miles in a day looking for food. This bird is very clean and spends hours a day preening its feathers and attending to personal hygiene. The California Condor is a playful bird with friends, but does have a vindictive side when crossed or provoked.

History

The California Condor can now be found in Utah, Arizona, and California. The life span for the California Condor is very long, and can exceed 60 years in the wild. This life span increases for birds that are kept in captivity, such as those in zoos and wildlife refuges.

Present Status

The California condor became extinct in the wild in 1987. Efforts were made to reintroduce the bird into the wild, and California Condors now reside in Utah, Arizona, and California. Ongoing efforts are being made to preserve the breed and increase population numbers in the wild and in captivity.