Start with the numbers

I find newspaper headlines appealing. The abbreviations and other “shorthand” in headlines reflect the relationship, the mutual understanding between headline writer and reader. Headlines also bend the rules of good writing. Headlines can include “2” instead of “two” and even begin with digits.

While perusing the Los Angeles Times, I noticed that a number of headlines for articles about the California condor begin with some quantity of birds, a quantity not specified with a word. Many of these articles concern condors being shuttled between the wild and zoos.

Here are examples of such headlines:

1 of Last 2 Known Wild Condors Is Caught for Breeding Program (1 March 1987)
2 Rare Condors Found Dead (23 July 1998)
3 Zoo-Bred Condors Are Recaptured (11 March 1995)
4 Condors to Be Released near Big Sur (11 January 1997)
5 Rare Condors Stop Over in L.A. En Route to Wild (5 December 1984)
6 California Condors Released into the Wild (9 December 1993)
8 Condors Freed to Join 5 Others in Wild (30 August 1995)
9 Condors in Wild Stay Close to Roost (8 January 1994)
11 Young Condors Sighted in Flight (12 June 1960)
12 Condors Arrive at Facility in Idaho (24 September 1993)

For those who prefer their numbers ordinal rather than cardinal (condorinal?), here are some more headlines:

1st California Condors Return to Reclaim Wild (11 October 1991)
2nd Condor Chick Helped Out of Shell (6 April 1983)
3rd Condor in 9 Months Dies Accidentally (15 June 1993)
5th Condors’ Nest Discovered in Tree (23 March 1984)
7th Condor Egg Laid in Animal Park (9 February 1991)
10th Condor Egg of Year Produced at Zoo (12 March 1991)

(I realize that one of those headlines is ranking nests rather than birds.)

Finally, this intriguing headline just seems worth noting here:

Condor Eggs: 1 Fertile, 1 Not, 1 Up in the Air (28 February 1989)

All the headlines above are from the Los Angeles Times and dated 1999 or earlier. These are just some of the hundred of articles focused on the California condor in this newspaper alone (let alone the hundreds more that make passing mention of the condor). All these articles provided a large readership with critical information about the status of the California condor and so they are an important part of the history of the condor-human relationship.