The California Condor Essay

1284 Words 6 Pages
In 1986, it was realized that drastic measures would be needed if humans were going to save the California condor form extinction. With only three males remaining in the wild and 22 others left in captivity, an aggressive approach was necessary to save these majestic birds.
Standing at nearly 5 feet tall, weighing up to 31 lbs and with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is one of the largest flying birds in Northern America. Surpassed only in weight and wingspan by the Trumpeter (Cygnus buccinator ) and Mute (Cygnus olor ) Swan. The California condor has an average life span of 60 years, with some documented ones surpassing 80 years; it is also one of the longest living birds.
Recognized by its size, bald head and large white patches under their wings, California condors have been worshiped by Native Americans, used for ritualistic sacrifices and its feathers harvested for capes, but it wasn’t until the Europeans settled in the new world did G. californianus start its downfall. “By 1492 the condor was already retreating westward. Its bones were discovered in Florida early on, and recently its former presence in upper New York state was confirmed by Richard Laub of the Buffalo Museum of Science and David Stedman of the New York State Museum. When the '49ers were trekking to California, the condor had retired behind the Rockies, and it survived into the 20th century only in California and Baja California.” (Ehrlich, Dobkin, & Wheye,…