Posted by: atowhee | March 26, 2021


Some things are looking up. We birders shall be looking up as well.

The Yurok Tribe has succeeded in its campaign to get California Condors back into Northern California. The first releases will hopefully take place later this year. If all goes well it is only a matter of time until some living birders get this largest wingspan American onto an Oregon life-list. It is over 200 years since the Lewis & Clark Expedition shot at a California Condor along the Columbia River.

I would bet that Frank Lospalluto or Vince Zauskey or Jim Harper or some other highly acutely observant Ashland birder will get the first Oregon sighting in modern times. The last recorded sighting in this state was in 1904. I would venture the Siskiyou Pass on a sunny spring day, 2022, would be a good spot to begin watching. There are no confirmed records of the specIes breeding this far north, but an immature condor with no nest to tend…a few hundreds miles of northward soaring would need only a few sunny days in July. 150 miles of flight in a day is just condor cool.

Nearly a decade ago I got to meet some of the Yurok officials and biologists who were pushing this effort. They had already begun a campaign to rid their land of lead shot as lead-laced corpses are often fatal to even these great birds. The Yuroks are not wanting condors to lure tourists or publicize casinos. They want the condor back overhead because their traditional culture is rife with condor-related images, folklore and songs. It is a sacred animal. The Yuroks will welcome any donation to their Condor Program.

There are now over 440 living Cal. Condors, over half of them in the wild. We’ve come a long way since there were less than two dozen left. At that time I assumed I’d never see one alive. Now I have hope to add one to my Oregon list.

The condor is a curious, social animal, interested in much of the world around it.

This is exactly what it appears to be. A condor messing with a towel on the edge of a resort hot tub in Big Sur. The bird had sorted through the stack and then pulled the chosen towel from near the bottom of the tilting towel tower.

To see the full sequence that led up to this and a description by my awed friend who hurried his camera to the bot tub to catch this action, click here.

I once saw a pair of condors soaring up US 1 near Big Sur. A local condor expert red their plastic wing tags…of that is a grandfather and his favorite grandson, they often hunt together. A Turkey Vulture soared nearby looking more like a Purple Martin that a major raptor. Ready for the awe?


  1. […] Here’s link to a previous blog I did on the Yuroks’ condor quest and it includes amazing… Gary Joe photo is very good humor. […]

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