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Presently the largest and most astonishing bird in the skies of North America, the California Condor was one of our most highly endangered species by the 1980s, when it persisted only in a region just north of Los Angeles. By the late 1980s it endured only in captivity, but it has since been returned to the wild in selected regions. Fossil evidence from Pleistocene times shows that it inhabited not only California but a continent-wide range stretching from northern Mexico to Florida, New York, and the Pacific Northwest.
Did you know? Condors are incredibly intelligent: one bird released from a zoo 12 years after being brought into captivity, caught a thermal and glided several hundred miles back to where she had been captured.
D’Elia, S.M. Haig, M.P. Miller and T.D. Mullins. 2016. Ancient DNA reveals substantial genetic diversity in the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) prior to a population bottleneck.
Condor: 118: 703-714 D’Elia, J., S.M. Haig, B. Marcot, J.M. Johnson, and R. Young. 2015. Activity-specific ecological niche models for planning reintroductions of California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus).
Biological Conservation 184: 90-99. Haig, S.M., J. D’Elia, G. Herring, C. Eagles-Smith, J. Fair, J. Gervais, J. Rivers, and J. Schulz. 2014. Perspectives in Ornithology: The persistent problem of lead poisoning in birds from ammunition and fishing tackle. Condor 116: 408-428.
Rivers, J., M. Johnson, S.M. Haig, C.J. Schwarz, J.W. Glendening, L.J. Burnett, J. Brandt, D. George, and J. Grantham. 2014. Resource selection in California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus) relative to terrestrial-based habitats and meteorological conditions. PLoS One 9(2): e88430.
Rivers, J., M. Johnson, S.M. Haig, C.J. Schwarz, J.W. Glendening, L.J. Burnett, J. Brandt, D. George, and J. Grantham. 2014. A quantitative analysis of monthly home range size across the annual cycle in the critically endangered California Condor Gymnogyps californianus. Bird Conservation International 24: 492-504.
D’Elia, J., and S.M. Haig. 2013. The California Condor in the Pacific Northwest. OSU Press, Corvallis, OR. Walters, J R., S.R. Derrickson, D. M. Fry, S.M. Haig, J.M. Marzluff, J.M. Wunderle, Jr, B.B. Bernstein, and K.L. Velas. 2010. Status of the California Condor and efforts to achieve its recovery. Auk 127: 969-1001 (secondary authorship in alphabetical order)