Condors of the Columbia

Condors of the Columbia is as a new exhibit that is scheduled to open at the Oregon Zoo in Portland this spring. The Oregon Zoo is one of three zoos and a wildlife center that is raising California Condors for release in the wild. Starting with six breeding pairs in 2003, the zoo currently has 40 to 50 birds and has released 20 birds into the wild.

The new exhibit will provide a large aviary for unreleasable Condors along with information about Condors and the recovery program. One of the photos in the new exhibit is one that I took last year in Garapata State Park south of Carmel, California. It is of Condor #231 “Wild 1” feeding on a road-kill deer.

California Condor

Condor #231 was hatched in the Los Angeles Zoo in 2000 and was released along the Big Sur coast in 2001. She was the first Condor to lay a fertile egg and raise the chick (#477) on the Big Sur coast.

You can find the story on the trip here. I am pleased that my photo will help raise awareness of the Condor recovery program and the Oregon Zoo’s active participation in it.

Condor feeding

California Condor

Over the last few years, I have had good luck spotting and shooting California Condors along the Big Sur coast. Given that there are less than 200 California Condors in the wild and less than 20 along the Big Sur coast, my luck has been extremely good. So I wasn’t surprised when it appeared that my luck had run out. We took a drive down to Pfeifer Burns State Park, hoping to see condors along the way. When we didn’t see any there, I was hoping to spot some soaring above the park. Again not much luck.

I did spot a couple soaring way up at the top of the canyon, but I couldn’t confirm that they were condors. And the images certainly weren’t¬†anything to write about.

But on the trip home, as we past Soberanes Canyon in Garapata State Park, I got a glimpse of a big bird with a bright yellow tag. “That was a condor!”

Our driver asked me if she should turn around, “Oh yes!” We went back and saw the condor waiting on a fence post above a road kill deer. Another u-turn and we parked on the opposite side of the road about 50 ft from the condor.

 After a few minutes she hopped off the fence and went over to feed on the deer.

California Condor

California Condor

I think my luck is still holding.