Free

Previous posts have noted the frequent association of particular words with the California condor. In this post my focus is on “free”.

A search of my California condor bibliography for titles with both “condor” and “free”, or some variant of “free”, turned up nearly 30 items dated prior to 2000. Notably, the oldest item was dated 1968, the second oldest was dated 1979, and all the rest were from the 1980s or 1990s. The bibliography has over 2500 items dated prior to 1968 so the association between “condor” and “free”, at least in titles, is a recent one.

That oldest item was Ian McMillan’s Man and the California Condor: The Embattled History and Uncertain Future of North America’s Largest Free-Living Bird (E. P. Dutton). In this book title, “free” serves to set aside ostriches in North America’s zoos, and the like.

01 Title page - Phillips & Nash 1981

The second oldest item was David Phillips and Hugh Nash’s The Condor Question: Captive or Forever Free? (Friends of the Earth). In this title, “free” is employed in the sense that I am thinking about for this post: the antithesis of “captive”.

As I am mentioning  The Condor Question, this is an opportunity to show a fine illustration by Terry Down from the book’s back cover:

02 Terry Down - Phillips & Nash 1981

Newspaper headlines account for most instances of titles with “condor” and “free” in them. Here are some such headlines from the Los Angeles Times:

“Captured Male Condor Set Free with Tracking Device” (16 October 1982)
“State to Capture 4 Condors, Free Others” (4 September 1985)
“Last Days of Freedom near for Condors” (2 Dec 1985)
“U.S. Hopes to Seize All 6 Free Condors” (18 December 1985)
“Biologists Free Condor after Tests for Lead” (26 April 1986)
“Some Condors May Be Freed by 1991” (18 October 1989)
“Condors Fly Free” (19 January 1992)
“6 Condor Fledglings to Go Free next Week” (2 February 1995)

From the Washington Post for 2 March 1987:

“Scientists Try to Catch Last Free Condor”

From USA Today for 2 August 1991:

“2 Condor Chicks to Be Set Free in California”

From the New York Times for 10 December 1996:

“Majestic Species’ Fate May Ride on Wings of 6 Freed Condors”

Journals and magazines also titled articles with the words “condor” and “free”. This article is from the 1 November 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association:

“Lead Poisoning in Free-Ranging California Condors”

From the July-August 1987 issue of Audubon:

“Saga of AC-9, the Last Free Condor”

From the Winter 1988 issue of Zoo View:

“Freeing the Condor: Strategies of a Release Program”

From the August 1995 issue of National Geographic:

“Boot Camp May Help Freed Condors Survive”

From 2000 on, I found only 5 items in my bibliography with “condor” and “free” in the title. That’s out of more than 2000 items in the bibliography dated 2000 or later.

So the association of “free” with the California condor is mainly a phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s. This is not surprising as these were the years when the last wild condors were being captured for the captive breeding program and then the first captive-reared condors were being released into the wild.

Other posts focused on words that tell of the California condor saga are Black, Last, Passing, Return, and Ugly. The association of the condor with particular words at particular times is also noted in the post Census – count – survey. The 2 books noted at the beginning of this post are among the Essential books about the California condor.