|Condor mother and chick in cave nest.|
Now here's the bad news. Just like in the late 20th-century, lead poisoning is again striking down these majestic hunters, whose future survival is still fragile. The culprit is lead ammunition being used by hunters, whose bullets become embedded in abandoned carcasses that then become food for condors. As discussed in a recent Los Angeles Times article, unless a broader legal ban is instituted on lead ammunition within condor habitats, birds will likely continue to be poisoned, sickened and die.
You can learn more about these scrappy scavengers on the Big Sur coast at Andrew Molera State Park, where the Ventana Wildlife Society staffs the Discovery Center, now open Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Once the weather cools down, head inland to Pinnacles National Monument, a condor feeding and release site that hosts special birdwatching events, usually in fall, winter and spring (summer is just too hot!).
Can't travel to California? You can follow the condors' dramatic story online with Audubon California and the Ventana Wildlife Society blog and Facebook page, where condor sighting photos are posted. Find out how these birds narrowly came back from the brink of extinction in John Moir's moving and well-researched book, Return of the Condor.
10 Steps to a Perfect Day in Big Sur
Marine Life Cameos at Monterey Bay Aquarium
Itty-Bitty Book Review: Shadow of the Bear
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/ / CC BY 2.0