Items: 1869-1930

Looking through my bibliography of the California condor, I noticed a number of items from periodicals that included the word “item” in the title. These are collections of miscellaneous information, with just a couple sentences or at most a paragraph devoted to each topic. No authors are credited.

Below are 5 examples, in chronological order. For each, I quote the content concerning the California condor in its entirety.

(Warning: Readers may want to wait an hour after eating before continuing.)

This is from “Los Angeles County Items” in the August 14, 1869 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union:

Considerable discussion has been elicited over a reported shower of blood and meat which fell in a field of corn at Los Nietos. A piece of the flesh was examined by Dr. Hayes, under a powerful microscope, and discovered to be animal flesh. The solution of the problem seems to be that it was ejected by a California vulture in its flight from the scene of its engorgement to its home in the mountains. There is nothing unusual in such an occurrence, as we have heard of many well attested facts of a similar nature about these immense voracious birds.

The Los Angeles Times for October 13, 1883 carried this under the heading “Santa Ana Items”:

Mr. D. Spangler killed a large vulture on Monday last, at the foot of the mountains north of this place. The bird measured eight feet from tip to tip of wings.

The March 6, 1891 edition of San Francisco’s Morning Call included “Coast Items”:

A California vulture was caught near Pomona last Saturday. Its wings spread eleven feet nine inches. The captor took the bird to Los Angeles, where it will be mounted.

“Items from the Pacific Coast” appeared in Forest and Stream magazine for August 16, 1902. Among the items was this:

A young bird, said to be a California condor, was caught the other day by a ranchman in the mountains near Santa Maria. Your correspondent, however, is somewhat incredulous as to the variety. He heard in the spring that a condor’s egg had been found by two boys in the mountain near Santa Barbara; but investigation proved that the egg was only one of “another kind” of condor. The great California variety still exists, though, for specimens infrequently cross this valley, one large individual only several months since, and are easily identified by the observer. The egg of these creatures sells readily for $1,500, or about at the market price of great auk eggs, nor has one been forthcoming at even these figures for years.

The April 4, 1930 issue of the journal Science included nearly a page of miscellaneous that was collectively titled “Items”. Here’s the relevant bit:

Evidence that the California condor, largest of flying birds, once ranged well to the east of its present habitat in California has been discovered in Conkling Cavern, N. M., the celebrated bone cave where human remains were recently discovered associated with fossils of extinct camel, ground sloth, and other strange animals. One wing bone has been identified as that of a California condor by Dr. Hildegarde Howard, of the Los Angeles Museum, whither the bones from the cavern have been removed. In all, the cave has yielded about 100 bones of birds.

The items above illustrate the the variety of information about the California condor available to general-interest and specialized audiences of readers.