1950 California Condor Sighting

#16 "Orville"   Hatched: 06/04/2013 in Boise, ID    Released: 10/28/2015 in Big Sur, CA
Both photos, taken by Kaaren Perry on 4/15/2018, are of #16
circling Hollister Peak near Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, CA.
1950 California Condor Sighting
by Calvin French (a member of Audubon for over 50 years)

I saw my first condor about 1950 on the western slope of the Santa Lucias, just south of The Grade. My friend and I were riding our horses. He called, "Look at that buzzard on the ground down there." We approached, and instead of taking off, the "buzzard" ran down the hillside about 50 feet before it could get airborne. Both we young teenagers somehow knew about condors, and we yelled exuberantly about seeing one.

It would be about 50 years before I saw another one, actually more than one, on my walk across California, some on the Tejon Ranch and others on Wind Wolves.


#16 at Hollister Peak, Morro Bay, CA

(California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) were listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act on March 11, 1967. As of Oct 31, 2012, the total condor population was 409 birds [that number has increased since 2012] and 232 of those were in the wild [extracted from http://www.ventanaws.org/species_condors_history/].

In 1987, the last wild California Condor was taken into captivity to join the 26 remaining condors in an attempt to bolster the population through a captive breeding program. At that time, it was uncertain whether or not North America's largest flying land bird (by wingspan, 9.5 feet) would ever again soar in the wild [extracted from http://www.ventanaws.org/species_the_condor_story/].

So, in 1950, Cal was viewing one of the last Surviving California Condors in the wild.)