Archive for the California Condor Category

California condors investigating my camera gear, Elephant Odyssey, San Diego Zoo

Posted in California Condor, San Diego Zoo on October 31, 2009 by Charles Alexander

Condors are inquisitive, intelligent birds– with a curiosity factor and capacity for play that reminds me of parrots. The adult male bird featured here was not adjusting well to release in Baha California and now serves as mentor to two young birds at the zoo (notice that the juvenile on the right still has a dark head which will change to the adult color as it matures at age 5). Elephant Odyssey is a relatively new theme complex of exhibits featuring animals closely related to the Pleistocene megafauna that ruled California 12,000 years ago. Animals on exhibit include tapirs, guanacos, pronghorns, secretary birds, lions, horses, sloths, jaguars, capybaras, and of course, elephants: all modern stand-ins for lost creatures of the past. The condors, however, were California residents during the Pleistocene (they were a bit bigger back then) and were part of a guild of scavenging/predatory birds that included the giant Merriam’s teratorn and Dagget’s “walking” eagle (think Secretary bird on steroids). Thanks to last-minute captive breeding and release efforts, the California condor lives on in the 21st century as a splendid reminder of a time when America was a land of elephants, lions, cheetahs, and saber-toothed cats.