Condors return to Mount Diablo after 100 year absence

Arianna Turner '23, Exchange Editor

For the first time in 100 years, the California Condor has made a comeback by flying around Mount Diablo. 

This is thanks to the programs that introduce animals back into the wild after raising them in their facilities, such as the Pinnacles Condor Recovery Program. Just as it sounds, the Pinnacles Condor Recovery Program raises Condors in captivity until they are released into the wild under watchful supervision. 

One of these Condor’s tagged 828 by the program has traveled to many places throughout the area. While being interviewed by the Save Mount Diablo Organization, Alacia Welch, Condor Crew Leader at Pinnacles National Park said, “This summer, Pinnacles Condor 828 flew farther north in western California than any condor before her since condor release programs began in the 1990s. Over three days, she flew north from Pinnacles National Park and circled around the eastern flanks of Mt. Diablo before returning south to Pinnacles, covering over 100 miles each way!”

So how did the large condor with few enemies become endangered in the first place? Part of the reason includes hunting, but mostly, it was habitat destruction and lead poisoning because they ingest chemicals while eating the remains of other animals. 

Condors were often shot by ranchers who thought they ate baby cows, or just to shoot them for sport. The final straw, though, was the use of DDT, a pesticide chemical which had major effects on many predatory birds in North America by damaging their eggs,” said biology teacher Colleen O’Rourke. 

But with new times come new challenges for the condors, with their frequent and long travels comes the risk of windmills in the Altamont area. This isn’t just a risk for the condors, it’s a risk for any and all birds. 

“Wind turbines can pose a threat to any bird who doesn’t know how to avoid them and gets hit by the spinning blades. There’s been a lot of research over the past few decades on better ways to design wind turbines to avoid this,” O’Rourke said.

Even after all of the struggles of the condor, this progress in its history and the people who have dedicated their time to help save this endangered creature is heartwarming. It brings a hopeful light on other creatures who are endangered as well.