The California Condor; Mother Nature's Garbage Disposals

The California Condor. They look like a cross between Larry King and the Grim Reaper. Sure they may not be the best looking birds out there, but that is absolutely no reason to shun them and seal their fate as doomed. These interesting birds are the largest North American land bird and one of the world’s longest living birds, reaching ages of up to 50 years. They are a type of vulture and commonly feed on dead and decomposing organic matter. If you think about it, it’s absouleltly amazing how nature adapts. Instead of evolving big garbage trucks (which we engineered anyway) nature came up with a much more efficient way of disposing trash. Who else do you know would pick up some road kill and pack it up for lunch the next day? I’m pretty sure that if I was in the cafeteria on dead animal day I would probably run the other way, making sure I don’t throw up at the same time. Yet these birds feast on dead things like Hasselhoff on a hamburger, and we all know that’s pretty voracious. They are immune to diseases that would otherwise cripple us and enjoy the taste of dead meat.

About fiver hundred years ago, these impressive condors could be found all throughout the American Southwest as well as the West Coast. Now they are one of the rarest birds in the world, with only about 380 left in both the wild and captivity. In nature they don't have any natural predators, until we intervene (do you see the pattern here). The birds were nearly hunted to extinction back in the 80s since farmers thought that they were killing their cows, instead of eating the already dead ones. They also faced threats from egg poaching and lead poising. How did they get poisoned, you ask? Well the birds started to feed on the left-over carcasses from hunters. These carcasses still contained the lead bullets from the hunters which effectively killed the condors. 

So the government decided to undergo one of the most expensive conservation missions to this day. They collected all the wild condors (which wasn't to hard since there were only 22 left) and partitioned them between Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. At first things didn't seem to bright. But researches began using a technique where they would remove the egg from the mother condor which would result in her laying another one. This ended up doubling the reproductive rate of these birds and helped a great deal in bringing back their numbers. Now, captive condors are conditioned to avoid people and power lines (which was another major cause of death) and there is a new law that prohibits hunters from using lead bullets in condor territory. 

They aren't in the clear yet. Like I said there are only around 380 condors alive, which is an incredibly small number. You can help out by Adopting a Condor or Donating. There is also the book titled Return of the Condor: The Race to Save Our Largest Bird from Extinction. If I didn't have so much to read for school, I would definitely pick this book up. Education and spreading awareness are two of the most important tools in conservation, so remember that when you run out of conversation topics on a date. Just bring up conservation and get the ball rolling.

Cool Random Fact: Condors poop on their feet to lower their temperatures. Remember that the next time your air conditioning breaks.

Signing Out


rachelfaber said...

hehe i love the randon facts!

Kris said...

Larry King and the Grim Reaper? Haha I can see the that. Once again very interesting, and I loved it even more because it was about something from California (my home state).

Green Gal said...

I like the humor and subtle commentary you put into these posts; they make the information all the more interesting. Nice work. I definitely didn't know much about the California condor before reading this, so thanks for sharing!

Danny said...

thanks to all of you! And yeah, I try to make it a little bit more entertaining than other articles so that it's easier to read and may reach more people.

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