Condor 746, on loan from a captive breeding program in Idaho, traveled to California in spring 2022. He’s the first California condor in over a century to reach the ancestral land of the Yurok Tribe, and made the journey to mentor four young birds in a condor facility in Redwood National Park. Condors are very social, learning best and benefitting from being under the wing of an elder. In this piece, Sharon Levy beautifully traces the journey of the species, and the efforts of the tribe to ensure the bird’s successful reintroduction to the wild.
Reintroducing condors to the wild proved difficult, however, and the process became a dramatic lesson for biologists on the importance of parenting and the slow pace of growing up among these long-lived, highly social birds. Scientists learned that time spent with adults was critical to the behavioral development of young condors. They also found that in a species where adults follow and protect their offspring for a year or more after the birds fledge, youngsters pioneering landscapes empty of condors require lots of human babysitting.