California Condors Return to Sequoia National Park for First Time in Nearly 50 Years

If you’ve been searching the headlines for a bit of good news in recent days, perhaps a press release from the National Park Service can provide some. Yesterday, the NPS announced that the rare and highly endangered California condor has been spotted in Sequoia National Park for the first time in nearly a half century. This siting indicates that efforts to reintroduce these large birds back into the wild are working, perhaps providing a glimmer of hope for the species moving forward.

Park staff spotted two of the condors together back on May 28, creating much excitement within the park service in general. That was a time when the park was still closed to visitors, which may have influenced the condors to some degree. With no one in the area for the first time in decades, the elusive birds may have belt emboldened to show themselves. Whatever the reason for their appearance, it was a significant milestone for sure.

Back in the mid 1980s, there were believed to be just nine California condors that still existed in the wild. For centuries the massive birds had soared above North America, but as Europeans arrived, and pushed their way west, they were hunted and killed. Later, the use of pesticides on crops would have an especially disastrous impact on their numbers, further reducing them as time went by. Fortunately, conservationists recognized the threat and began raising some condors in captivity for eventual release back into the wild. In recent years, that program has begun to bear fruit with roughly 400 of the condors now said to be found throughout the Southwest U.S.

Their arrival in Sequoia is very encouraging, but shouldn’t necessarily be surprising. In the past, the birds would build their large nests in the branches of the giant trees from which the park derives its name. Hopefully, this sighting means that they are taking up residence in their natural habitat once again and may start nesting there as well. That bodes well for future hatchling and possibly the rebirth of a species that was long thought to be doomed.

Now that is some good news indeed.

Kraig Becker