The California condor is the largest bird in North America, but for a time, experts didn’t expect the condor to retain that title. That’s because the California condor was in some serious trouble. The large bird, which has long been a prized natural symbol among Native Americans, was teetering on the brink of extinction. However, thanks to some important conservation efforts, the condor has made a serious comeback and the species has distanced itself from the extinction line. In fact, the species recently achieved an important milestone. What is believed to be the 1,000th condor in the California Condor Recovery Program hatched and emerged from its egg.
Thirty years ago, it was believed that only about 20 condors were left on the planet. In a mad scramble to save the species, scientists gathered as many of the surviving birds as they could and quickly started a breeding program. Sadly, and as is the case with many other endangered animals, the plight of the condor was caused by humans. The birds suffered from poaching and habitat loss, as well as lead poisoning.
The condor has come a long way since those dire days back in the 80s. Today, there are more than 300 of the large birds living in the wild, and many more than that living in captivity and recovery programs. Experts say that the condors are breeding more in the wild than they ever have, and that’s obviously important for the future of the species. The population still can’t be labeled as healthy, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction.
Chick number 1,000 was recently hatched in Zion National park. It’s unknown whether the chick is male or female, as scientists haven’t been able to conduct a blood test on the bird yet. The chick hatched from its shell in May, but it won’t be ready to fly until November. Eventually, the chick could end up with a 10-foot wingspan!
The good news is that condors have one of the longest lifespans of any bird in the world. It’s believed that condors can live for up to 60 years in the wild.