Image courtesy of ARKive.org media library

ARKive photo - California condor in flight,  lateral view

Image courtesy of ARKive.org media library

Species: California condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The California condor urinates on its own legs to keep cool!

The California condor is a member of the New World vulture family, and has an impressive wingspan of just less than three metres. Native to North America, the California condor soars over large distances on its immense wings, using its vision to spot carrion on which to feed. Its large size means it dominates other scavengers at a carcass, except the golden eagle which, while smaller, has an impressive set of talons. The California condor mates for life, producing one chick every two years. Young condors take around six to eight years to reach full maturity.

Extremely endangered, the California condor was reduced to just eight wild individuals in 1987. Declines in the 20th Century were due to human induced pressures such as trapping, shooting, egg collection and lead poisoning following ingestion of carcasses killed with lead shot. The remaining wild birds were taken into captivity and an intensive captive breeding programme has since led to the first release of this magnificent bird back into the wild.

Find out more about the California condor with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Learn more about the California condor and other endangered species with our Survival app.

View images and videos of the California condor on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author