California Condor Milestones
Reintroducing the California Condor to Big Sur
• Prehistory – California Condors range along both coasts from British Columbia to Baja California and from New York to Florida.
• 1602 – First recorded condor sighting by a European, Father Antonio de la Ascension, in Monterey Bay.
• 1805 – Lewis and Clark report sighting a condor, calling it "beautiful buzzard of the Columbia".
• 1939 – National Audubon Society researcher Carl Koford begins landmark field studies. Koford estimates 60-100 condors remain in the wild.
• 1967 – California Condor is included in the first federal list of U.S. endangered species.
• 1975 – California Condor Recovery Team is established and the recovery plan is adopted.
• 1979 – 25-35 California Condors remain in the wild. Cooperative California Condor Conservation Program is formed.
• 1980-1987 – Field investigations and management programs include radio telemetry and captive incubation of wild eggs.
• 1982 – Only 22 California Condors remain in the wild.
• 1983 – First successful hatching for a wild California Condor egg in captivity.
• 1987 – Last wild California Condor taken into captivity. Only 27 condors remain in captive breeding facilities at Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park.
• 1988 – First successful breeding of captive California Condors at the San Diego Zoo.
• 1992 – Two captive-bred California Condors reintroduced into the wild, accompanied by two Andean condors
• 1993 – Third California Condor breeding center established at World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.
• 1994 – Captive California Condors have laid a total of more than 100 eggs.
• 1996 – California Condor population reaches 103, including 13 in the wild. Releases begin in San Luis Obispo County, California, and near the Grand Canyon, Arizona.
• 1997 – Releases begin in Monterey County by Ventana Wildlife Society
• 1999 – California Condor population reaches 147, including 50 in the wild. The Big Sur flock is documented feeding on sea lion carcasses for the first time.
• 2000 – AC8 is the first of the wild-born birds re-released into the wild.
• 2001 – The Oregon Zoo joins the Recovery Program as the fourth captive breeding partner.
• 2002 – First chick born in the wild successfully fledges in Ventura County. Condors are released in Baja California.
• 2003 – Condors are released at Pinnacles National Monument, San Benito County, California.
• 2004 – AC9, the last condor taken from the wild in 1987 (re-released in
• 2006 – First nesting attempt for the re-introduced flock in Big Sur. The nest fails and eggshell fragments recovered are found to be thin. Condors in this flock observed feeding on a Gray Whale carcass for the first time in over 200 years.
• 2007 – Eggshell thinning research initiated in Big Sur. Wild-laid eggs are switched out with captive-laid eggs and hatched in captivity to maximize nest success.
• 2008 – First chick from a wild-laid egg fledges in the wild in Big Sur and survives, two additional chicks from captive-laid eggs fledge and one survives. The number of free-flying condors exceeds the number in captivity for first time in over 20 years. The use of lead bullets is outlawed in California within condor range.
• 2009 – First nest in San Benito County. In central California, 4 chicks successfully fledge in the wild and survive (one from a wild-laid egg and three from captive-laid eggs).
• 2010 – In central California, two chicks fledge in the wild (one from a wild-laid egg and one from a captive-laid egg). Broken egg discovered in Big Sur with thin eggshell fragments.
• 2011 – Ventana Wildlife Society acquires 80 acres of land referred to as the "Condor Sanctuary". This remote coastal canyon surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur, California is where the reintroduction has taken place since 1997. As of March, the global population is 192 wild and 177 captive birds.
• 2012 – Condors 663, 664, and 665 fledged from nests in the wild in central California. Death of Condor 318 from lead toxicosis; a .22-caliber lead bullet is recovered from the digestive tract of this bird. The global population reaches 231 birds in the wild and 176 in captivity (as of November).
• 2013 – A difficult year for the central California population, due to the deaths of several more condors and reproductive failure at all local nests. The central California population dips to 61 birds, and the global population is 217 birds in the wild and 203 in captivity (as of September).