Since prehistory, California Condors have fed on Mastodons and other large Mammals. With the extinction of the Mammoth, came the gradual decline in the number of California Condors. After Europeans settled the American West, California Condors became seriously endangered as their food supply rapidly diminished. When their imminent extinction became evident, people banded together to save Them. A breeding and capture program, started the 1980s, has bred and released over 100 California Condors into the wild.
As the largest flying Bird in North America, California Condor is a majestic Bird with a black body and reddish bare head and neck. Like her sister Andean Condor, California Condor soars while barely flapping her wings. So long as the warm column of air is rising faster than the downward path of cold air, She will go even higher in the sky. A scavenger, California Condor travels about 300 kilometers a day in search of carrion.
Once ranging over the entire continent of North America, California Condor was regarded as a sacred being by Native Peoples. Thunderbird, the immense Bird whose wings clapping caused thunder and lightening, has his origins in California Condor. For others, California Condor was a Thunder God, who created thunder with every beat of her wings and sent lightening bolts from her red eyes.
Why do people today spend large amounts of time and money to save California Condor from extinction? Perhaps they are responding to the awe She inspires when seen on the wing. Perhaps they feel the Sacred Spirit in Her. Held sacred by Native Peoples, California Condor still touches all who see Her. People involved in saving Her look upon their work as a sacred trust.
California Condor’s Teachings Include:
Chumash Belief: “If the Condors become completely extinct, so will the Chumash people.”
“When the vultures watching your civilization begin dropping dead, it is time to pause and wonder.” -- David Brower, Naturalist.
“Condor people are inspired to restore balance.” Copyright: “Animal Messengers” by Scott Alexander King
California Condor is a sister to Andean Condor.
Conservation Note: California Condor is a nearly extinct species and is protected in the United States.
Photo of California Condor courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service