Illustrations & photos of habitat: 1880s-1990

Many images of the California condor also show their habitat in the background. We see condors soaring over mountains and the ocean, roosting in trees, and nesting in caves.

Habitat matters to the California condor. As part of his argument against capturing all condors for captive breeding, environmentalist David Brower wrote:

A condor is five per cent feathers, flesh, blood, and bone. All the rest is place.

In this post, I present images of just those places, the habitat, from a variety of sources.

The first image is a wonderful drawing of Sisquoc Falls, in the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary:


Artist: Margaret Boyd Bush. Source: Wollman, Katherine Bard, editor. Western drawings from the sketchbooks of Margaret Boyd Bush, 1883-1887. No publisher given. 1986.

The next image includes the artist in the foreground, holding a coil of climbing rope:


Artist: P. W. Nahl. Source: After condor’s eggs. Nidiologist. March 1894.

The location of the deep canyon shown in this photo is not indicated:


Photographer: Harry H. Dunn. Source: Dunn, Harry H. How I found the nest of the condor. American Boy. February 1907.

Next is a view of a snow-capped “Mount Topa-Topa”:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Undated postcard (bearing an illegibly cancelled 1¢ stamp).

This news photo was taken in what is now Pinnacles National Park:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Acme Photo. 1934.

The caption on the back of the photo above is:

Uncle Sam’s newest national monument, to be dedicated May 6th [1934], is “The Pinnacles” …. The shape of the rock formation is remindful of America’s emblem of recovery [the eagle].

This gentle image of Sespe Creek once graced boxes of lemons:


Artist: Uncredited. Source: Fruit crate label reproduction.

The arrow in the photo below indicates the entrance to a cave where paleontologist Loye Miller found condor fossils:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Miller, Loye. Condors of Lake Mead. National Parks Magazine. September 1960.

This next photo is from a government report and, presumably, from the Sespe Creek watershed:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: A detailed report on the Sespe Creek Project. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1969.

Another government document provides a different view of Sisquoc Falls, the subject of the 1st image in this post:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Johnson, Lyndon B. Communication from the President of the United States transmitting a letter and report from the Secretary of Agriculture recommending the establishment of the San Rafael Wilderness Area. Government Printing Office. 1967.

The photo below was taken downstream of Sisquoc Falls and shows Wheat Peak:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Gagnon, Dennis R. Hiking the Santa Barbara backcountry. Ward Ritchie. 1974.

Finally, here are 2 photos that show humans enjoying the California condor’s habitat:


Photographer: Uncredited. Source: Sespe. Sunset. April 1990.


Photographer: Jeff Brouws. Source: Sespe. Sunset. April 1990.

The Sunset magazine article that is the source of the 2 photos above describes the Sespe Creek watershed as:

the condor-rugged but accessible wilderness in Santa Barbara’s back yard

As the illustrations and photos here demonstrate, the habitat of California condors has long appealed to humans. The sources of these images tell some of the prehistory and history of condor habitat, including early settlement by the descendants of European immigrants, agricultural production, federal protection of lands, expanding human settlement, and tourism.

Two previous posts to this blog are especially related to this post. Presidents Roosevelt notes the establishment of Pinnacles National Monument and Traveling to the birds includes another photograph of California condor habitat.

Brower, David R. The condor and a sense of place. In The condor question: captive or forever free? David Phillips and Hugh Nash, editors. Friends of the Earth. 1981.