Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society’s 1981 conference

In 1981, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society held a conference concerning the California condor. A transcript was published the next year. However, this document is not currently in a library (at least a library that is part of the WorldCat network).

As I have an original copy of the conference proceedings, here are some details about the conference and excerpts from the presentations and discussions.

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Baby pictures

There is little doubt that the California condor is with us today as a result of human management of the species. One critical component of this management has been captive rearing. In the most intensive form of captive rearing, humans take the role of condor parents starting when an egg is laid.

In this post I consider intensive captive rearing from a visual perspective. The photos (and an illustration) below “describe” the hands-on rearing process in a way that words cannot.

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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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