24 June 2009

California Condors on the Kolob

On my way to a brief weekend break in Colorado with my friend Chris West, we took a brief detour through Zion National Park to the Kolob Terrace. Recently, there was a Condor festival in the area and it was said that several condors were in the area. So, we drove up the road the said distance the festival adds said and found two cars on the roadside. One belonged to a Condor researcher who was listening to the radio trackers, and another belonging to some other tourists. I pulled over, and asked if they knew where exactly the condors were. "Here" was there simple reply, and it was right then that I spotted the following approximately a hundred feet away:

As if it could not get any better, another California Condor flew directly overhead, so closely that it could not fit inside my lens! I managed to snap one decent in flight picture:

It was about this time that I came to the conclusion that California Condors are one of America's most incredible birds. By day's end, we saw about nine condors, all at close range. The man working with the condors that we ran into told us that later in the summer it is not uncommon to have forty (40!) condors at this site. All of these birds were originally released in the Vermilion Cliffs, and found their way to the sheep-rich hills north of Zion. Food is so plentiful that the birds even ignore the food drops the researchers place for the birds. I hope one day to see these birds in even more areas, as they begin to recolinize their former range (Oregon to Northern Mexico eastward to Big Bend, Texas).

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