Our main activity during our one full day at Grand Canyon National Park last Friday was enjoying the views of the canyon, using the shuttle bus to get to the rim trail for a series of hikes. Then in the late afternoon, we listened to the park ranger's scheduled presentation about the California condor. A small number of condors have successfully been introduced into the park – they were once native here, but became extinct in Arizona in the 1920s. The park presents a very large, protected, and appropriate habitat for these huge birds.
|Park Ranger demonstrating the use of a condor puppet from|
the captive breeding program. Seeing the puppet rather than a person
prevents the condor chicks from imprinting on humans and
becoming unable to adapt later to life in the wild.
The canyon’s 70 condors, which fly as far as Zion National Park and beyond, are descendants of the 22 condors that survived in California in the 1980s. These were taken into protective custody and encouraged to breed in several zoo programs. Currently, we learned from our ranger, a total of 420 condors survive. Besides those re-introduced into the wild in Arizona and California, a majority remain in zoos and sanctuaries.
The ranger talk included several suggestions about helping maintain and improve the survival of the condor. Lead poisoning from bullets in the carcasses or discarded entrails of hunted deer and other animals presents a continuing danger to carrion-eating species. Encouraging hunters to use copper bullets instead of lead is one of the principal ways to protect the released birds and help them once again become truly wild.
Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t warm enough during our stay for the Grand Canyon condors to come out of their caves and show themselves to us tourists. Len and I saw one of the Grand Canyon introduced condors a couple of years ago at the North Rim. And many years ago we saw two of the last truly wild members of this still-endangered species.
|Early morning on one of the rim trails|