California condor

California condor
Temporal range: Early PleistoceneHolocene
Condor #534 soaring over the Grand Canyon, U.S.
CITES Appendix I (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Cathartidae
Genus: Gymnogyps
G. californianus
Binomial name
Gymnogyps californianus
(Shaw, 1797)
Range map of California condor:
  Extant (resident)
  Possibly extinct


  • Antillovultur Arredondo, 1971
  • Pseudogryphus Ridgway, 1874[3]


  • Vultur californianus Shaw, 1797[4]

The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture and the largest North American land bird. It became extinct in the wild in 1987 when all remaining wild individuals were captured, but has since been reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah (including the Grand Canyon area and Zion National Park), the coastal mountains of California, and northern Baja California in Mexico. It is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps, although four extinct members of the genus are also known. The species is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as Critically Endangered, and similarly considered Critically Imperiled by NatureServe.[5]

The plumage is black with patches of white on the underside of the wings; the head is largely bald, with skin color ranging from gray on young birds to yellow and bright orange on breeding adults. Its 3.0 m (9.8 ft) wingspan is the widest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 12 kg (26 lb) nearly equals that of the trumpeter swan, the heaviest among native North American bird species. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world's longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.[6]

Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 20th century due to agricultural chemicals (DDT), poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction.[7] A conservation plan put in place by the United States government led to the capture of all the remaining wild condors by 1987, with a total population of 27 individuals.[8] These surviving birds were bred at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. Numbers rose through captive breeding, and beginning in 1991, condors were reintroduced into the wild. Since then, their population has grown, but the California condor remains one of the world's rarest bird species. In December 2020 there were 504 California condors living in the wild or in captivity,[9] while by December 2022 the population totaled 537, of which 336 lived in the wild.[10] The condor is a significant bird to many Californian Native American groups and plays an important role in several of their traditional myths.

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2020). "Gymnogyps californianus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T22697636A181151405. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22697636A181151405.en. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  2. ^ "Appendices | CITES". Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ridgway, 1874 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference Shaw, 1797 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  6. ^ "Once nearly extinct, the California condor nears new milestones". CNN. April 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 4, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  7. ^ "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: California Condor". The Zoological Society of San Diego's Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species. Archived from the original on August 3, 2003. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "Last Wild California Condor Capture for Breeding Program" (PDF). U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (press release). Archived (PDF) from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2009.
  9. ^ Miranda Terwilliger (December 31, 2020). "World CA Condor Update – 2020". National Park Service. Archived from the original on January 29, 2022. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  10. ^ "Condor Status". Ventana Wildlife Society. December 17, 2022. Retrieved December 17, 2022.

Powered by 654 easy search