The California Condor has a body length of 43 - 52 inches, a wingspan up to 9 1/2 feet, and weighs 18 - 23 pounds.
As recently as the early 1800s, the California Condor occupied mountains along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to northern Baja California. By the mid-twentieth century, the population declined to a small population in south-central California. Through captive breeding, California Condors have been reintroduced to the coastal mountains of south-central California and the Grand Canyon area of northern Arizona. Condors prefer mountains, gorges, and hillsides, which create updrafts, thus providing favorable soaring conditions.
The California Condorís diet consists of medium and large-sized dead mammals like cattle, sheep, deer, and horses in any state of decay. Condors may travel several hundred miles in search of food.
Condors nest in a cave or cleft among boulders on a cliff or hillside. The female will lay the single egg directly on the floor of the cave. The egg is incubated for 54 - 58 days. The young condor learns to fly in about 6 months, but will stay with its parents for several more months. The extended breeding season prevents condors from breeding yearly. California Condors usually become sexually mature at 6 years of age.
The scientific name comes from the Greek word gymnast, meaning naked, and refers to the head; gyps is Greek for a vulture; and the Latinized word for California indicates the birdís range. The name condor is from the Spanish word cuntur, and is the Inca name given to the Andean Condor. California Condors have also been called a California Vulture.
- The California Condor is one of the most endangered birds. The population steadily declined to fewer than 25 birds, mainly due to shooting and poisoning. In the 1980s, the remaining wild condors were captured for captive breeding programs. By 1992, the first captive-bred California Condors were reintroduced in California.
- California Condors are social birds and they spend a great deal of time feeding and roosting together.