Grand Canyon National Park California Condor

California condors ( Gymnogyps californianus ) are the largest land bird in North America with a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet and weighing up to 22 pounds. Adults are primarily grayish-black except for triangle-shaped patches of white underneath their wings. These patches are visible when condors are flying overhead and offer a key identification characteristic. Males and females are identical in size and plumage. The bare heads of condors are grayish-black as juveniles and turn a dull orange as adults.

Condors are members of the vulture family and are opportunistic scavengers, feeding exclusively on dead animals such as deer, cattle, rabbits, and large rodents. Using thermal updrafts, condors can soar and glide at up to 50 miles per hour and travel 100 miles or more per day searching for food while expending little energy. When not foraging for food, condors spend most of their time perched at a roost. Cliffs, tall conifers, and snags in Grand Canyon National Park serve as roost sites.

Condors become sexually mature at about five or six years of age and mate for life. Most nest sites have been found in caves and rock crevices. Condors do not build nests. Instead, an egg about 5 inches in length and weighing around 10 ounces is deposited on bare ground. Condors lay a single egg normally every other year. The egg hatches after 56 days of incubation and both parents share responsibilities for feeding the nestling. Young condors leave the nest when they are 5 to 6 months old.

There are currently 45 free flying condors in Arizona with one being the first chick to hatch in the wild in the state in over 100 years.

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