The California condor is a vulture species that was once found along the entire Pacific coast of North America, but is now only found in central southern California. It is said to be the largest of North Americas flying land birds. An adult condor can grow up to 4.5 feet in length with a wingspan of over nine feet, and they can weigh up to 18 lb. Females are usually smaller than males. Adult plumage is black with the exception of white patches that appear on the underside of the wings, and the head and neck are bare and brightly colored. There is also a black feather ruff around the neck. Their tails are broad and the legs are short and adorned with long and coarse claws.
California condors rely on habitats with rocky cliffs and rubble so that they are able to find permanent nesting and roosting sites. They also rely entirely on carrion for survival and feed on the corpses of cattle, sheep, deer, and horses. This species may be thought of as dirty, but they are very tidy. After eating, they clean their heads and necks by rubbing them on grass, rocks, or branches. They also bathe frequently and spend hours smoothing and drying their feathers. They even have a very hardy and effective immune system, so they dont get sick from any of the bacteria they may come in contact with when feeding on decaying animals. California condors prefer to remain in pairs (male and female) and mate for life. They only breed every other year and usually give birth to two eggs in the months of February and March. Both parents help to incubate the eggs, and the eggs hatch after 54 to 58 days.
In 1982, the California condor population was only said to be less than 25. With the aid of captive breeding programs, the numbers have increased to 200. Threats to the species include loss of habitat, shootings, pesticide residue, lead poisoning, and collisions with power lines.
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Twelve Incredibly Odd Endangered Creatures1. Solenodon
The solenodon is a mammal found primarily in Cuba and Hispanola. The species was thought to be extinct until scientists found a few still alive in 2003. Solenodons only prefer to come out at night. They eat primarily insects and they are one of the few mammal species that are venomous, delivering a very powerful toxin. Symptoms of a solenodon bite are very similar to a snake bite, including swelling and severe pain, lasting several days.