"King of the Western Skies"

California Condor

        The Red Cliffs Audubon group left for their Kolob Field Trip on June 13 in good spirits. The weather was cloudy, but there was a rainbow in the sky; it was a sign!

        This Kolob Field Trip was to find California Condors. There’s always more excitement upon seeing a really big bird. A bird that is wild, rare, and makes its own agenda from sunup to sundown.  Here are just a few facts about Condors:  They are seldom seeing flapping their large wings except to take off and land and their massive wing-spread (reaching about 9 feet) is impressive as they soar majestically in the updrafts of Kolob.  Their top flying speed is over 50 mph and altitude is noCalifornia Condor problem as they have been seen elsewhere cruising at 15,000 feet (Lava Point in Kolob is 7,800 feet).  Females begin breeding at around 5 years of age and can lay an egg every two years. Numbers on their wings identify these birds and their comings and goings are tracked, since they are an endangered species. Unlike vultures, Condors have a poor sense of smell and rely on other scavengers to point out a source of food. Condors reached the point of extinction due to lead poisoning, pesticides, and the encroachment of man. Without the help of many wonderful and caring people the Condors, who ages ago flew this land from coast to coast, would be extinct. 

        For us, the rainbow turned out to be a sign of good birding but, alas, not a sign of Condors.  Where they usually hang out there were only beautiful spring flowers. It was raining. The flowers needed it, but not the Condors. Any sensible Condor would have been under cover, waiting out the storm. We got great pictures of flowers and saw thirty-nine different species of birds. The day ended too soon, but we got to enjoy the company of some of the greatest people on earth (birders are in that ‘great people’ category), and came away informed of what to do when no-see-ums attack! It was time well spent.  Although we have no drawing of a Condor this week, we have included a photo of old #81 we saw on a previous visit.

        Note: On June 20, fourteen Condors were seen in the same area. If you are interested in seeing the endangered California Condor, make sure it’s not raining, and call the Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996. Public is always welcome on field trips.

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