Sighting reports in News from the Bird-Banders

News from the Bird-Banders was a monthly newsletter first published in 1926. This publication of the Western Bird Banding Association was a venue for amateur and professional ornithologists to share information about their studies of bird movements and survival.

I will note the (limited) efforts to band California condors in a future post. In this post I share reports of condor sightings that appeared in News from the Bird-Banders in the 1930s-1950s. With one exception, these reports are excerpts from the minutes of meetings of the Western Bird Banding Association.

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Let them evolve

Beginning in the 1950s, those concerned about the California condor debated how best to prevent their extinction. Two main alternatives emerged: protect condor habitat and leave the birds alone, or intensively manage the condors, including breeding them in captivity. In the 1980s, the latter strategy won out and has demonstrated success.

01 Katherine Gould - Wallace 1997
Zoo scientist Mike Wallace carries an immature California condor (photograph by Katherine Gould)

However, the survival of California condors continues to depend heavily on human intervention. For example, condors living in the wild regularly experience lead poisoning that requires a return to captivity for veterinary treatment. Condors are exposed to lead primarily by consuming carrion that contains fragments of hunters’ bullets.

I recently encountered a book chapter that gave me new insight into the 20th century debate about how to insure the California condor’s survival. The chapter also considers possible futures for the California condor and for the relationship between the condor and humans. This post offers some reaction to this book chapter.

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Paintings by Hans Peeters

Hans Peeters is a scientist, author, and artist.

One of Hans’s scientific research articles is in my California condor bibliography. While that article concerns golden eagles, his findings lead him to an important recommendation concerning condors.

But this post is about Hans’s wonderful paintings of the California condor, including art that appeared in 2 books, on a postage stamp, and on the label of a wine bottle. My collection now includes both those books, the postage stamp, and a print of the painting for the postage stamp. Hans was kind enough to share digital images of his other condor paintings, and some of the back story, for this post.

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