Did you see a California condor? Let us know!
A California condor can be easily distinguished from other birds if you know what features to look for when you spot a bird. Start by looking for a numbered tag attached to its wings. Then consider this:
Turkey vultures and golden eagles are the birds most often confused with condors. (Reference graphic.) A condor has large white stripes on the inside of its wings, whereas the golden eagle and turkey vulture have white on the wingtips rather than a thick white stripe.
A mature California condor’s white stripe is brighter than that of an immature or juvenile condor. A mature condor also has a featherless pink head while an immature bird has a featherless black head.
The size of the wingspan is another giveaway to the bird species. The turkey vulture has the smallest wingspan of the three species at only 6 feet. The golden eagle comes second with a 7-foot wingspan, while the California condor has a 9-foot wingspan. If the bird is too high to really determine its wing size look at the shape of the wings. In the graphic, note the slight bend in the turkey vulture’s wings, this does not occur in a condor’s wings.
If you did see a California condor, let us know. Please provide as much information as possible, including the identifying tag number, location, how many condors were observed, was it flying or on the ground, was it eating or resting, etc.
Reminder: The California condor is a critically endangered species and is protected by the federal government. Condors should not be approached and attempting to feed the birds may result in the birds return to captivity permanently. If you see one please do not try to interact with it or inhibit its actions. The California Condor Recovery Team is working diligently to help this species return to its native habitat. Human interaction can interfere with its return to our skies, so please observe them from afar.