Game bird?

To my surprise, some articles published in the first half of the 20th century treat the California condor as a “game bird”. To me, that is a term applied to animals that are hunted for sport, food, or fur. What’s going on?

Below is some of what I found.

In “Weights of Game”, a letter to the editor of the magazine Forest and Stream (29 December 1900), the author reports that the California condor weighs 20 pounds.

“A scientist’s 12,000-mile hunt for big game”, published in the New York Times (26 August 1906) is about an expedition to “five Western States” by Frank Chapman of New York’s Natural History Museum. A fair portion of the article concerns the California condor.

The 29 February 1908 issue of Forest and Stream included “Game near Los Angeles”. This short article describes the exceptional abundance of wild game near the city. The author writes that “Eagles and California condors are found in a few places …”

Popular Mechanics Magazine for April 1941 includes “Wild Game – Our Latest Crop”. This article reports that:

Until a few years ago the sage hen, band-tailed pigeon, Sierra grouse, California condor, antelope, elk, sea otter, and mountain sheep were also threatened with extinction. Now it appears they will be restored to safe numbers.

All the animals in that list have been hunted for meat or fur except for the condor.

Finally, I note a government document from 1944: “Report on the Progress of Wildlife Restoration and Management Pursuant to Senate Resolution 246 (71st Congress)” includes a table titled “Estimate of game birds on national forests, 1941”. One of the columns in that table is headed “condor”. Other columns are headed quail, ducks, geese, pigeons, turkey, grouse, and the like. (The condor’s appearance in this table is bizarre.)

Not surprisingly, many other authors state that California condors are not game birds. Perhaps I will note some of these statements in a future post.