Endangered California Condors Spotted at Sequoia National Park

The endangered raptors, once extinct in the wild, were seen at the California national park for the first time in decades.

California Condorpjsells/Getty Images
California condor in Big Sur, California

California condors, a critically endangered species, were spotted at Sequoia National Park for the first time in more than 50 years. According to the National Park Service, the birds were seen atop Moro Rock and in the Giant Forest during late May.

With wings spanning more than 9 feet, California condors are one of the most impressive raptors in the world. They have keen eyesight and can cruise great distances in search of food. But these massive birds, the largest in North America, once teetered on the brink of extinction. In the 1980s, all 22 known condors were brought into captivity to establish a breeding program. Due to successful preservation efforts, there are now more than 300 condors in the wild.

California condors can live up to 60 years old. But their recovery is slow because they only breed once every two years. And their eggs are the slowest to hatch of any bird, taking 56 days. As scavengers, condors are susceptible to ingesting lead fragments from eating animals killed by from bullets. This may result in lead poisoning.

Where to See Condors

The birds can also be seen flying in the skies above Big Sur, along the central California coast. The best time to see condors in Big Sur is from spring to fall, but if the weather is clear, even winter can be good,” explains Joe Burnett, senior wildlife biologist with the Big Sur Condor Project. “Condors are most active from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The best place to see condors in Big Sur is in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Condors can sometimes be seen on the waterfall trail, but more commonly on the Ewoldsen trail.”

Birders have also spotted condors at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Zion National Park in Utah.

Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori is certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener and is also a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.