The California condor is one of the largest and most engangered species of bird anywhere in the world. While its population is slowly increasing, just 93 individuals are alive today. They are found in Southern California in forest edges and savanna grassland. Their decline was due to intentional killings and accidental lead poisoning from bullet fragment ingestion.
Once found throughout all of California, they are now restricted to a small sliver with almost all individuals living in the South of their range just above Los Angeles. However, as the species starts to recover it is being seen further inland.
The California condor lives primarily in coniferous forest or scrubland. Nesting sites include tall trees or rocky outcroppings large enough to support them. The species exhibits one of the largest home ranges of any species, ranging upwards of 400km between breeding seasons.
As a scavenger the species has a wide diet, usually eating carcasses of large or small mammals that have been killed by other predators or natural causes. However, this has lead to problems in the past with secondary posioning events.
The main factor for the species decline has been accidental ingestion of lead fragments used in hunting and game shooting. These are often left in prey who may not have died on the spot or that hunters have not collected. This is still the primary cause of mortality with the species but recent disease outbreaks have put futher pressure on the species.
Classified as Critically Endangered there are less than 100 individuals existing today. This is despite intensive conservation eforts to protect and rear young in captivity before release. Without these programmes it is thought the species would have already gone extinct.