Saturday, October 19, 2013

California Condors

Piedras Blancas has lots of wildlife other than elephant seals. It's not far from the Big Sur wilderness, where California Condors have been released. I met Susan Foreman Lewis last week, who owns a local clock and doll business, Once Upon A Tyme, and loves condors. She sent these beautiful pictures, which she took.

 Perhaps the large elephant seals could be prey objects, food for condors. They feed on the carcases of large animals. None has ever been seen on the beach, but some day one might find its way there, if there were a dead animal on the beach. That doesn't happen often, but occasionally one dies on the beach.

 Wingspan can be 10 feet and they can soar up to 15,000 feet high. They may travel 150 miles a day in search of food.

 The captive-raised birds are released to the wild. After the population fell to fewer than three dozen birds in the 1970s, researchers captured all they could and brought them into a captive breeding program. When the wild population continued to decline, they captured the last 10 birds in 1987 and brought them into the program. They are gradually being released to establish a wild population. Today, 127 condors live in the wild.

 This youngster is one of them. "Too cute," says Susan.
California Condors survive in a difficult world. Lead poisoning from firearm ammunition poisons them. Legislation could make California lead-free, which may help.

The arrival of elephant seals on the Central Coast could attract condors. These magnificent birds are at the top of the food chain. I've never seen one, but I look forward to the day when one glides silently onto the beach before my astonished eyes.

You can watch the condors on the live web cam any time.

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