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The life of the california condor

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http://www.scenic.com/ | On your next Grand Canyon tour, keep an eye out for the magnificent California Condor. Though they once faced extinction, today this spectacular species is one of Grand Canyon National Park’s most famous attractions.

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The life of the california condor

  1. 1. For centuries, California Condors were considered sacred by Native American tribes of the Southwest. Once plentiful around the Grand Canyon, condor populations dwindled as a result of human interaction, and nearly became extinct by the 1970s. Thanks to a successful captive breeding program undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, today California Condor numbers are up, and this beautiful bird is once more free to soar over the cliffs of the Grand Canyon.
  2. 2. The name “California Condor” pertains to the species’ range. These birds have historically inhabited remote locations throughout California, including areas of the Central Coast like Big Sur and the rocky crags of Pinnacles National Park near Soledad. They can also be found in Southern California (in locations like the Sespe Wilderness in Ventura County), as well as parts of Arizona. Today, California Condors are commonly attributed to the Grand Canyon, due to a breeding and recovery program based nearby.
  3. 3. Condors do not build nests. When they aren’t soaring the skies in search of food, they spend most of their time perched at a roost. They prefer to live in rocky, forested regions, so roost sites can include cliffs, tall conifers, and mountain peaks.
  4. 4. The California Condor is the largest land bird in North America, featuring a massive wingspan that dwarfs the arm span of most human beings! • Body Size: 3.5 to 4.5 feet • Wingspan: 9 to 10 feet • Weight: 18 to 31 pounds
  5. 5. California Condors spend most of the day soaring along currents of air, which allows them to search for food while expending very little energy. With this method, birds can travel 100 miles or more per day. To find food, condors use their incredible eyesight, as their sense of smell is quite weak compared to other species of birds.
  6. 6. Condors are in the same family as vultures, and therefore share similar eating habits. Both are scavengers that feed exclusively on the carcasses of mammals like deer, cattle, rabbits, and rodents. The process of scavenging helps break down organic matter to be returned to the earth as beneficial nutrients. Not only does this keep ecosystems clear of dead animals, but also plays an instrumental role in the circle of life.
  7. 7. Unlike most birds, California Condors do not build nests. Instead, a simple roost is fashioned inside caves or tree cavities. Whereas other birds may lay several eggs to increase the number of babies that are reared to adulthood, condors instead produce very few young and provide an extensive amount of parental care. Female condors only lay a single egg every other year, and, when hatched, stay with the baby for several months.
  8. 8. As a result of the continued downward spiral of wild condor populations, a breeding program was established in the 1980s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to the fastidious efforts of condor caretakers, the captive population increased dramatically from 27 birds in 1987, to the 177 or so that are currently being held. Release efforts began in 1992 and continue to this day. Around 400 California Condors exist worldwide today, with more than half living in the wild. Although still endangered, they've come a long way.
  9. 9. Scenic Airlines is the largest and most experienced aerial tour operator in the world. Started in 1967, the company showcases the most impressive landscapes of the Southwest’s beautiful National Parks, specializing in Grand Canyon air tours. Scenic Airlines also develops customized airplane tours for groups, companies, or incentive programs. For more info, visit http://www.scenic.com/ or call 800-634-6801.
  10. 10. • Slide 4: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/california-condor/ • Slide 6: http://www.defenders.org/california-condor/basic-facts • Slide 9: http://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/nature/condor-re-introduction.htm