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14 of North America's most endangered birds

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california condor photo
credit: a2gk3

California Condor

Most anyone who hasn't been living under a rock the last couple decades has heard of the conservation efforts behind the California condor. This majestic species is the largest terrestrial bird in North America, with a wingspan of about 9 feet!

Due to habitat destruction, poaching and poisoning from lead and DDT, the population of condors plummeted during the 20th century until only 22 were left in the entire world. A massive conservation effort that included capturing all remaining condors and starting a captive breeding program has helped to bring their numbers back up to a little over 400, with about 234 birds living in the wild.

However, this is still far from out of danger. Because these birds eat carrion, lead poisoning from bullets left in carcasses is still a problem and finding solutions is a controversial issue among hunters and conservationists. Power lines are also a problem, though since 1994, captive bred condors have been trained to avoid power lines -- and people.

For now, you can see condors soaring from the Grand Canyon to the California coast, and in two areas set aside as condor sanctuaries -- the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary in the San Rafael Wilderness and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in the Los Padres National Forest.

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