The report of my extinction was an exaggeration

In the early 20th century many thought that the California condor was extinct. Here’s the story.

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen of 30 October 1901:

Another bird believed to have become extinct is the California condor …

From the Los Angeles Herald of 1 August 1904:

The latest bird to become extinct is the Californian condor …

Both of the articles above referred to the value of California condor eggs to collectors, claiming values as high as $2000. That’s equivalent to about $60,000 today.

Under the headline “Extinct Bird Life”, the Los Angeles Times of 8 December 1932 noted that:

Naturalists express doubt if there exists today a single specimen of the California vulture either in captivity or in the wild state.

School Journal for 7 July 1900 all but claimed the species’ end:

The California condor is almost extinct; it can hardly survive two years.

Two newspaper articles addressed the matter of extinction in another way. The Boston Daily Globe of 16 July 1922 printed the headline “California Coast Condors Not Extinct; Two of Species Seen on Columbia River”. The article begins:

The belief that the west coast, or California condor, North America’s largest bird, is practically extinct must be revised …

The Los Angeles Times of 25 November 1928 printed the headline “Giant Condor Supposed Extinct Seen in Forest”. Here are excerpts:

Belief that the giant California condor had become extinct is given a jolt by reports reaching the Automobile Club of Southern California. These are in effect that two members of the Forest Service recently saw three of these huge birds in the Santa Barbara National Forest during a trip into the back country of the Ojai.

These birds reported sighted are the first to be seen for several years.

We are fortunate that the early-20th-century claims of extinction were wrong.

(The title of this post is a nod to Mark Twain’s response to erroneous newspaper accounts that he was seriously ill and near death.)