Written by: C. Polite
Reviewed by: L. Kiff
Edited by: L. Kiff
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
Endangered, permanent resident of the semi-arid,
rugged mountain ranges surrounding
the southern San Joaquin Valley, including the Coast Ranges from Santa
Clara Co. south to
Los Angeles Co., the Transverse Ranges, Tehachapi Mts., and southern
Forages over wide areas of open rangelands, roosts on cliffs and in
large trees and snags.
Occurs mostly between sea-level and 2700 m (0-9000 ft), and nests from
(2000-6500 ft). Nonbreeding individuals move north to Kern and
Tulare cos. in April, often
returning south in September to winter in Tehachapi Mts., Mt. Pinos,
and Ventura and Santa
Barbara cos. Total population in early 1980's estimated to be
fewer than 20, and declining
(Ogden 1982). Occurrence in the wild now in question. Two
U.S. Forest Service sanctuaries
set aside within the Los Padres National Forest, primarily for nesting
and roosting protection .
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Strictly a scavenger, eating
carrion such as cattle, sheep, deer, and ground
squirrel carcasses. Dead cattle have provided the most important
food source in recent
decades. Requires about 1 kg (2.2 Ib) of food per day.
Can convert food to fat rapidly after
gorging; thus, can remain for several days without feeding (Wilbur
1978). Searches for food
while soaring and gliding. Food must be in open areas to enable
landing and take-off (Koford
1953). Often forages over areas 7.3 to 30 km² (2.8 to 11.6
mi²), or larger. May fly 56 km (35
mi), or more, from roost to feeding sites (Koford 1953).
Cover: Traditional roosting sites are
ledges or cavities on cliffs. Also uses old-growth
Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, and snags, in undisturbed areas.
Reproduction: Nests in caves, crevices,
behind rock slabs, or on large ledges on high
sandstone cliffs. Nest often surrounded by dense brush.
A nest is not constructed; egg laid
on bare surface. Nesting occurs within the Coast and Transverse
Ranges of Ventura and
Santa Barbara cos.
Water: Uses water for drinking and bathing.
Pattern: Requires vast expanses of open
savannah, grasslands, and foothill chaparral,
with cliffs, large trees, and snags for roosting and nesting.
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong, diurnal
Seasonal Movements/Migration: Subadults
and nonbreeders often move north March to
May to traditional roosts and foraging areas in the southwestern Sierra
south again at the end of summer. Breeding pair remains near
nesting area yearlong.
Home Range: No additional data found.
Territory: Territoriality not confirmed
at any season. Simultaneous use of nest sites has
occurred as close as 0.8 km (0.5 mi) apart; nest defense between adults
was not observed
Reproduction: Breeds annually, or less
often. Courtship observed as early as October.
One egg laid February to May. Incubation approximately 59 days,
after which young remains
in nest for about 5 mo. Young remains dependent on parents for
food for several months
after begins flying.
Niche: Reduced nesting success in recent
decades associated with eggshell thinning,
probably caused by presence of DDE in eggshell (Kiff et al. 1979).
Golden eagles have been
observed attempting to prey on condor chicks (Ogden 1981). Turkey
vulture competes with
condor for food. Numbers of cattle and other livestock carcasses
reduced in recent years
because of changes in husbandry practices, including increased salvaging
Comments: Apparently extinct in the wild
after 1987. Captive breeding program
underway, with plans to reintroduce into the wild in the early 1990's.
Brown, L., and D. Amadon. 1968. Eagles, hawks and falcons
of the world. 2 Vols. Country
Life Books, London. 945pp.
Kiff, L. F., D. B. Peakall, and S. R. Wilbur. 1979. Recent
changes in California condor
eggshells. Condor 81:166-172.
Koford, C. B. 1953. The California condor. Natl.
Audubon Soc., Washington DC. Res. Rep.
No. 4. 154pp.
Miller, A. H., I. I. McMillan, and E. McMillan. 1965. The
current status and welfare of the
California condor. Natl. Audubon Soc.,
New York. Res. Rep. No. 6. 61pp.
Ogden, J. C., ed. 1981. Condor field notes. Calif.
Condor Res. Center, Ventura CA. 4pp.
Ogden, J. C., ed. 1982. Condor field notes. Calif.
Condor Res. Center, Ventura CA. 6pp.
Verner, J. 1978. California condors: status of the recovery
effort. U.S. Dep. Agric., For.
Serv., Berkeley CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-28.
Wilbur, S. R. 1976. Status of the California condor, 1972-1975.
Amer. Birds 30:789-790.
Wilbur, S. R. 1978. The California condor, 1966-1976: A
look at its past and future. N. Amer.
Fauna No. 72. 136pp.
Wilbur, S. R. 1980. Estimating the size and trend of the
California condor population, 1965-
1978. Calif. Fish and Game 66:40-48.
Compiled from information from California Department of Fish and Game - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group