The public lives of individual birds

For most people, our lives pass without articles about us appearing in major newspapers. But big-city newspapers (and other publications) regularly publish articles about the details of individual condors’ lives. Just the titles of these articles have a story to tell about California condors and humans.

The article headlines below are not about the same condor. Nor are these titles by any means a complete set of such titles.

To begin:

“Los Angeles Zoo’s First Condor Egg Laid”
(Los Angeles Times 21 February 1989)

“Laid an Egg”
(Los Angeles Times 23 March 1994)

The cycle of life continues:

“Condor Chick Could Hatch by Wednesday”
(Los Angeles Times 18 April 1989)

“Condor Hopes Hatched as Chick Pecks Hole in Shell”
(Los Angeles Times 27 April 1988)

“Condor Hatched at Park after 63 Hours of Pecking”
(Los Angeles Times 20 April 1989)

Imagine if articles comparable to these were written about you:

“Condor Egg Laid at Park Proves Fertile”
(Los Angeles Times 29 March 1989)

“For First Time, Experts See Condor’s Egg Hatch”
(Los Angeles Times 16 May 1980)

“Second Condor Chick Is Hatched with Help”
(New York Times 6 April 1983)

The health of a chick was the subject of headlines:

“Healthy Condor Is Hatched in Captivity”
(Washington Post 1 April 1983)

“Baby Condor’s Feet Bandaged to Correct Its Splayed Legs”
(Los Angeles Times 7 May 1988)

The sad news of a chick’s death was reported:

“Unhatched Condor Dies”
(Los Angeles Times 15 April 1990)

“Baby Condor Dies on Coast”
(New York Times 26 July 1981)

“Frail Condor Chick Dies”
(Los Angeles Times 10 May 1984)

And a lot was riding on one chick:

“A Condor Chick Is Hatched, and Hope Is Born, Too”
(Los Angeles Times 24 May 1988)

Condor “dating”, or not, was newsworthy:

“Condor without Mate”
(Los Angeles Times 24 January 1909)

“Tests to Show If Condors Might Mate”
(Los Angeles Times 10 August 1985)

“Condor Chick a Male; Mate Will Be Sought”
(New York Times 12 November 1982)

Details about new families were reported:

“Condor Pairs Produce Eggs in S.D., L.A.”
(Los Angeles Times 22 February 1989)

“California Condor Pair Lays and Loses Egg”
(Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin 1982)

The health issues of adult condors also made the news:

“Condor Recaptured for Heart Murmur Treatment”
(Los Angeles Times 1 August 1998)

“Wounded Condor to Undergo Surgery”
(Los Angeles Times 26 June 1998)

“Wounded Condor Responding to Care”
(Los Angeles Times 21 September 1976)

Newspapers thought nothing of reporting birds’ whereabouts and status:

“Condors Reported Flying 70 Miles from Sanctuary”
(Los Angeles Times 22 November 1941)

“Condors Seen near Malibu”
(Los Angeles Times 8 July 1948)

“Condor Missing since Aug. 14 Feared Dead”
(Los Angeles Times 4 October 1996)

The end of a condor’s life was headline worthy:

“Large Condor Killed”
(Los Angeles Times 25 November 1882)

“Condor Dies in Arizona”
(Washington Post 14 January 1997)

“Wounded Condor Dies after Surgery”
(Los Angeles Times 2 November 1976)

Why a condor died was news:

“California Condor’s Death Leaves Biologists Puzzled”
(Washington Post 11 October 1992)

“Condor’s Death Explained”
(Los Angeles Times 8 November 1992)

And, as with a condor’s hatching, a condor’s death had large implications:

“Condor Death Fuels Fight over How to Save Species”
(Wall Street Journal 16 June 1993)

While some might see in these headlines unwarranted human intrusion into the lives of wild creatures, I see these articles as evidence of the concern that humans have for the California condor. But my positive reaction does not mean that I am unaware of the extent to which humans have inserted themselves into the individual lives of the great birds.