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CALIFORNIA CONDOR } Gymnogyps californianus

RANGE: Coastal mountains of south-central California and the Grand Canyon area of northern Arizona

STATUS: The California condor is listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. This species is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

THREATS: Poaching, lead poisoning, pesticides, electric power line mortality, and habitat destruction

IThe California condor is the largest flying bird in North America and one of the most endangered birds in the world. California condors stretch out their nine-feet-long wings and ride warm currents of air as far as 100 miles a day in search of carrion to eat. These massive birds once soared above the mountains along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California, but by the 1980s their numbers had dropped so low that the species needed a captive breeding program to keep it from extinction. Today, California condors have been successfully reintroduced in Southern California and Arizona’s Grand Canyon area, but development’s continued encroachment on their habitat — as well as the tragic loss of lead-poisoned birds who scavenge on animals killed by lead shot — keep them fighting to survive. The Center has worked to prevent the use of lead shot in condor habitat, and we’re maintaining a close watch over Tejon Ranch — which contains the largest, most pristine stretch of condor habitat in California — to make sure commercial and residential development doesn’t harm the rare bird in one of its last refuges.


Photo by Scott Frier, courtesy USFWS