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How Many California Condors Are There?California Condor populations hit a low of just 22 birds in 1982. As of 2022, the population was 561 (wild and captive) The US Fish & Wildlife Service leads the California Condor Recovery Program and publishes an annual population status report. Click on the title to view the 2023 Condor Population Status Report. Interested in older population data? We have the following previous years' population information: * 2022 Condor Population Status Report * 2021 Condor Population Status Report * 2020 Condor Population Status Report * 2019 Condor Population Status Report * 2018 Condor Population Status Report Photo Courtesy USFWS Southwest Region. Click on image to see full Condor photo album.
How big are California Condors?California Condors are huge! They have a wingspan of about 9.5 feet and weigh an average of 20 pounds. For comparison, that is at least two feet more wingspan than a bald or golden eagle and 4 times the weight of a turkey vulture! This picture shows a condor with two ravens flying next to it, and the ravens look tiny (and ravens are not small birds)! Another way of looking at there size is this... their wingspan is almost 3 feet more than a king sized bed is long!!! King sized beds in the US are 80" (or 6.6 ft) long. Add 2.9 more feet to get to a California Condor's enormous 9.5 foot spread!
Where is the best place to see California Condors?There are a lot of places that California Condors can be seen. Friends of Condors mostly works in Southern California, but we will give a quick breakdown of potential viewing sites for each population. Feel free to reach out to us for more details, or if you think there is a really good spot that we missed. Photo Courtesy USFWS Southwest Region. Click on it to see their Condor Recovery Program Website. Southern California A great place to see condors in SoCal is the upper Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge sign on Hudson Ranch Road (formerly Cerro Noroeste Road) between Maricopa and Pine Mountain Club. We normally have a viewing booth there on 1st & 3rd Saturdays June through September with a shade canopy and spotting scope. More Info here and check our event page to confirm dates. We also conduct free tours, a few times each year. Contact us for more details or sign up for the mailing list for tour invites here. Central California, Coastal The Pacific Coast Highway near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is reputed to have some really great pull-offs where you can condor watch. Ventana Wildlife Society manage that release, so they might have more information. They also conduct tours for a fee Central California, Inland Pinnacles National Park has some great condor viewing. High Peaks is one area where they are seen often and the campground is another. Check in with Pinnacles staff though, as they will have the most up-to-date information. Arizona/Utah There are four places that get mentioned often for sightings of condors in this population. They are listed below and link to more info (if available). Grand Canyon National Park Zion National Park Lee's Ferry/ Navajo Bridge The Peregrine Fund annual condor release Baja California Norte Condors are released in the Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir (Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park).
What should I do if I see a California Condor? And where can I report the sighting?First of all, enjoy it. While their numbers have increased significantly in recent decades, condors are still critically endangered. So any sighting of a condor is a rare occurrence and definitely something to savor. You can use www.condorspotter.com to learn more about the condors you observe. If you see condors that are not engaging in dangerous behavior, you are welcome to report those observations to the Recovery Program. Any condor sightings will help biologists keep track of their movements and activities. You can send an email to HopperMountain@fws.gov. Reporting non-emergency sightings at https://www.inaturalist.org/ too can add to a general database of sightings and is a great way to contribute to citizen science. If you see a condor that is ill, injured, or engaging in potentially dangerous behavior such as feeding on a carcass possibly shot with lead ammunition or a carcass laying in the road, approaching people, drinking from deep water containers, or perching on artificial structures, please report the sighting immediately by emailing HopperMountain@fws.gov. Please report the date and time of the observation, location and activity of the condor, and the numbers on wing tag if possible. Other helpful information includes: how many condors were present and the behavior of the other condors, whether other species of birds were present and engaging in the same behavior, whether the behavior was a first or has happened before, and how long the condor was present. If you see a condor on your property, remember that although they are large, they pose no threat to humans, pets, or livestock. If you've been visited by condors on your ranch or property, please remember that state law may require switching to lead-free ammunition within condor range, as lead poisoning is one of the biggest threats to California condors in the wild. For more information on switching to non-lead ammo check out https://huntingwithnonlead.org/, a great resource for all things related to non-lead ammo.
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