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California Condors Return To Redwood National Park After A 100-Year Absence

California Condors Return To Redwood National Park After A 100-Year Absence

4th August 2022
By: Olivia - F&F

For the first time in over a century, critically endangered California Condors have been spotted flying freely over Redwood National Park, California. Let’s take a look at how the California Condor was saved from the brink of extinction by the Yurok Tribe!

Two California Condors Perching On BranchTwo California Condors Perching On Branch

Image: PNG Studio / Canva

Two California Condors Successfully Released Into The Wild 

After disappearing for more than 100 years, the largest flying bird in North America has once again taken flight! California Condors can fly to a dizzying 15,000 feet (4,500 metres) thanks to its massive wingspan — which stretches almost 10 feet (3 metres) from tip to tip. 

Witnessing a California Condor take flight is a sight to behold, and that’s why the recent release of two male Condors was especially exciting! The two birds were released from a pen in Redwood National Park in early May. This was all thanks to more than 15 years of Condor Conservation work conducted by the Yurok Tribe. Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen said, “it was just as exciting as I thought it was going to be! Those guys just took right off”.

California Condor FlyingCalifornia Condor Flying

Image: Aido75 / Canva

The California Condor Is Sacred To The Yurok Tribe 

California Condors are renowned for their enormous black wings, extraordinary eyesight, and above-average intelligence. To some North American tribes, like the Yurok people, the California Condor is often called a ‘thunderbird’ — because it’s believed that the bird’s large wings bring about thunder!

The California Condor is sacred to the Yurok Tribe — they’ve been at the forefront of the efforts to repopulate the critically endangered bird. To execute, the Yurok Condor Restoration Program established a Condor release facility — alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

The Yurok people have upheld a sacred responsibility to maintain balance in the natural world. Condor reintroduction is a real-life manifestation of their commitment to help the planet.

California Condor PerchedCalifornia Condor Perched

Image: NNehring / Canva

How Did The California Condor Almost Reach Extinction?

So, how did the largest flying bird in North America almost reach extinction? Fossil records indicate that the Condors weren’t just prevalent on the West coast, but the East coast too. Leading up to the 1970s, the California Condor had all but disappeared due to poaching, habitat loss, and lead poisoning from ingesting animals with bullets.

In the early 1980s, just 22 surviving wild Condors were captured for a breeding program in a last ditch effort to save the species. Now, there are more than 500 Condors living in captivity and the wild, soaring across California’s Central Coast, as well as Arizona, Utah, and some parts of Mexico. 

Thanks to the work of the Yurok Tribe, these California Condors have been closely monitored and cared for.

Redwood National Park CaliforniaRedwood National Park California

Image: Pawel Gaul / Canva

Recovering California Condor Populations May Take Two Decades

The two birds released into Redwood National Park in early May were nicknamed ‘Poy-we-son,’ — which means “one who goes ahead,” and ‘Nes-kwe-chokw’ — which means “He returns” or “He arrives”. According to Tiana Williams-Claussen, the names are “representative of the historic moment we just underwent, and Condors’ return, free-flying, to the Yurok tribe.

If these two Condors assimilate successfully into their new environment, two more birds will be released into Redwood National Park soon. It’s going to be a long road ahead for the large, carnivorous species — the breeding program will release 4-6 birds a year over the next 2 decades to ensure survival. 

Nevertheless, it’s still a major milestone in the repopulation of this gorgeous species! Super incredible and exciting times.

Thanks to the conservation work by the Yurok Tribe, we should see plenty more California Condors gliding over Redwood National Park in the future!

For more amazing wildlife conservation stories, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

“Hedgehog Highways” Are Boosting The UK’s Urban Hedgehog Populations

Mexican Sea Turtle Conservation Group Releases 8,000 Turtles Into The Gulf Of California

Here’s How Scientists Saved The Tiny Mexican Tequila Fish!


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