Condor Time Line

The remains of Condors have been found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles with Mastodons and Saber-toothed Cats from the Pleistocene Age between 11,000 and 36,000 years ago.

Fossil records for the condors have been found from Canada to Mexico, and as far east as Florida and New York .

The Condor has been (and is) a very special totem for the Chumash Indians of Santa Barbara. The Chumash were also Hokan speaking people like the Esselen.

When the Europeans first came to this country Condors were found from Canada to Mexico.

In 1792 Captain George Vancouver described a Condor eating a dead whale in the shores of Monterey Bay.

In 1804 Lewis and Clark identify the condor along the Columbia River near The Dalles, Oregon. They call it ‘The beautiful buzzard of the Columbia”

In the 1950’s approximately 60 California Condors were found mainly in central and southern California .

In 1967 the California Condor was put on the endangered species list.

1982 the California Condor population was at it’s lowest of 22.

1984 Only 15 California Condors were in the wild.

7 died in rapid succession, so it was decided to bring them all in.

1987 The last California Condor was taken with 26 others in captivity.

1988 First egg produced and hatched in captivity at San Diego Wild Animal Park.

1992 The US Fish & Wildlife Service started releasing California Condors back into the wild.

2017 California Condor population total = 400 + Condors.


Condors are genetically related to Storks.

Small vultures have great smell. Large Condors have good sight.

The California Condors wingspan is up to 10 feet.

They weigh about 20 – 25 lbs.

They live for 40 – 60 years in the wild.

They can fly over 150 miles a day.

And can go 2 – 3 weeks without food. 1 – 2 weeks without water.

Condors nails are like our toenails, they don’t have talons like Hawks or Eagles.

Adults will show their emotions through color changes of their skin.

Adults have bright orange heads and white under wing patches.

Young birds have dark grey heads and their white under wings are mottled with brown.

Condors mate for life.

They mate around 6-7 years old.

Mating season is late winter to early spring.

They breed once every other year, spending the off year teaching the chick how to survive.

The egg will hatch in 56 days.

Chicks are born with their eyes open.

They eat 2 – 3 lbs at a feeding.

Both parents feed the young.

In 4-5 months they will leave the nest, yet they will stay close.

The young learn to find food and fly from their parents.

At 6 months they will take flight.
They will be independent the following year.

Condors in Big Sur

At times they can be seen:
Anywhere from Molera State Park down to Esalen. Lately they have been hanging out around Mt. Manuel. Sometimes they can be seen in the large bare trees up in Julia Pfieffer State Park.

They are identified  by the number on their tags.

For more information on the Condors go to