Condors recover, feast on roadkill near Ojai

In an Earth Day editorial this past Sunday, the Star noted that the captive breeding program that brought the California Condor back from near extinction has become so successful that condors in Ventura County are no longer even newsworthy: 

It was 25 years ago this month that the last free-flying California condor was plucked from wild and taken to join the 26 other remaining members of his species in a captive-breeding program.

The condors once soared in great numbers over the Western Hemisphere, but their population dropped dramatically in the 1900s due to poaching, lead poisoning and loss of habitat.

However, the captive breeding program has proved a phenomenal success. So much so, it is no longer big news — as it once was — when a condor chick hatches.

Today, the species' population hovers around 390, including more than 200 of these gangly birds known to be living in the wilds of California, Arizona and Mexico's Baja California; the remaining condors are in zoo breeding programs.

Clearly, the story of the California condor delivers a message of hope as one can now envision the continent's largest bird soaring over the backcountry of Ventura County.

It's true! And it's not just the backcountry — they like roadkill just fine. Believe it or not, I saw a young condor — with its characteristic red head — consuming a dead skunk by the side of the road today not more than a couple of miles from home in Upper Ojai. I did take a picture, with the phone, and in it you can see the characteristic spread of the primary feathers. 

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  1. Jonny Fields

    Wow! Amazing image! I think it is so rare to meet condor soaring in the sky. I have never seen this bird in reality , just on pics. It is great there is such a captive breeding program. That will give some prolific work.

    April 26, 2012