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California Condor
Similar Birds:
 Andean Condor

California Condor
Photographer: Stacy

An adult California Condor in flight. Tracking tags can be seen on both wings.
An adult California Condor in flight.
Tracking tags can be seen on both wings.

California Condor

Juvenile California Condors
Juvenile California Condors

Latin Name Gymnogyps californianus
Conservation Status Critically Endangered
Location W USA
Colour Black
Length 1.2 - 1.3 m (4 - 4.25 ft)
Wingspan 2.5 - 3 m (8.2 - 9.8 ft)
Weight 8 - 14 Kgs (18 - 31 lbs)
Life Expectancy Up to 60 Yrs

Main Characteristics

The California Condor is the largest flying bird in North America and it is also one of the most endangered. It has a body length between 1.2 and 1.3 m (4 - 4.25 ft), a wingspan between 2.5 and 3 m (8.2 - 9.8 ft) and they weigh between 8 and 14 kgs (18 - 31 lbs).

They have black plumage with their smaller wing feathers having white tips. They have a distinctive, black neck ruff at the base of their neck and the rest of their neck and head lack any plumage.

California Condors are experts at soaring and they spend a great deal of time circling high in the air.


California Condors are found in Arizona and California in western USA. They were once found from California to Florida but by 1987 the species no longer existed in the wild.

Through the California Condor Recovery Program a captively bred population, numbering just 27 in the 1980s, has grown to approximately 170 individuals, 40 of which have been released into the wild. Birds that have been released have had mixed fortunes, but the aim of the program is to re-establish the California Condor as a wild breeding bird, a goal that is still some years away.


In the past California Condors used to feed on the remains of american bison and pronghorns but this once abundant food source has rapidly declined. These days they mainly feed on dead cattle and deer.

They often travel up to 250 kms (160 miles) in a single day in search of carrion. They are intermittent feeders, often going for several days without food then gorging themselves on 1 - 1.5 kgs (2.2 - 3.3 lbs) of meat at once.


Male California Condors take part in courtship displays to attract females and once a female accepts a male they form a lifelong monogamous pair. They breed every other year and a a single egg is laid between February and April. The incubation period lasts for approximately 57 days and both parents care for their offspring.

The youngsters begin to fly at 6 - 7 months old but they remain with their parents for up to 1 year. They reach sexual maturity at 6 years of age.


Golden eagles and humans are the main threat to the California Condor.


There are no subspecies of the California Condor.

Interesting Facts

The California Condor is a new world vulture.

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