California Condor

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus): A Comprehensive Profile

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Cathartidae
Genus: Gymnogyps
Species: G. californianus


The California Condor is a unique species with no identified subspecies.

The California Condor is related to other New World vultures, such as the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), and the black vulture (Coragyps atratus).

Physical Characteristics

Population Size

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the population was about 500 individuals, with about half of these living in the wild.


California Condors have a long lifespan, living up to 60 years in the wild.

Top Speed

Their top speed in flight is approximately 55 mph.


Adults typically weigh between 20 and 24 pounds.


California Condors stand about 3 to 4.5 feet tall.


They have an impressive wingspan of up to 9.5 feet, one of the largest of any North American bird.


Adults have black bodies with white undersides to their wings. They have bald heads with skin that can vary in color, particularly during the breeding season, from white to yellow and pink to bright red.


California Condors are scavengers and primarily eat carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals.

Habitat and Behavior

Geological Location/Range

These birds are found in the Pacific states of the U.S., including California, Arizona, Utah, and parts of Nevada.


They inhabit rocky shrubland, coniferous forests, and oak savannas.


They are typically found in mountainous regions and coastal areas.

Climate Zone

They are found in both temperate and subtropical zones.

Group Name

A group of California Condors is called a “Gyre.”

Grouping Behavior

These birds are social and often feed and roost in groups.


Age of Sexual Maturity

California Condors reach sexual maturity around six years of age.

Name of Males, Females, and Offspring

Both males and females are referred to as “condors.” Young condors are called “chicks.”

Reproduction Season

The breeding season generally begins in winter and extends into spring.

Gestation Period

The incubation period for a California Condor egg is approximately 54 to 58 days.

Type of Birth

Condors lay eggs, typically one per breeding season.

Age of Weaning

Chicks are generally ready to leave the nest at around six months of age.

Conservation Status

As of my last update in 2021, the IUCN Red List classified the California Condor as Critically Endangered.

Summary Profiles


The California Condor is a large, black bird with a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet, white underwings, and a bald, colorful head.

Geographical Distribution

California Condors are found in the Pacific states of the U.S., including parts of California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, primarily in mountainous and coastal regions.

Habit and Lifestyle

These birds are social scavengers, often seen feeding and roosting in groups. They glide on thermal updrafts to soar vast distances in search of carrion.

Diet and Nutrition

California Condors mainly consume carrion as scavengers, especially large mammals like deer, cattle, and sheep.

Mating Habits

California Condors mate for life, usually producing one egg every other year. Both parents share incubation duties and care for the chick after hatching.


As of 2021, about 500 California Condors existed, with approximately half in the wild. They face threats from lead poisoning, habitat loss, and power line collisions. They play a crucial role in their ecosystem by cleaning up carrion, thereby reducing disease spread.

Interesting Facts

  1. The California Condor is one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.
  2. They are known to travel up to 150 miles daily for food.
  3. Due to their crucial role in the ecosystem, condors are considered keystone species.

AZA Zoos with California Condors

Numerous AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited institutions have California Condors. These include the San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, and the Santa Barbara Zoo, among others. Conservation programs in these institutions have been crucial in the recovery efforts for this critically endangered bird.

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