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Condors in the Pacific Northwest

Lewis and Clark saw them!
© USFWS View Large

In 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, while exploring north of the Columbia River, came upon a California Condor. David Douglas, the English naturalist, collecting the flora and fauna of the Columbia River country in the mid-1820s, found the great birds abundant along the lower river. But after 1854, no condors were ever reported on the lower Columbia again. By 1983, only 22 California Condors were left in the world. But people have not let the condor slip into extinction. Through captive breeding, the bird's population has increased ten-fold. You can learn more at ABCBirds.org.

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Condors of the Pacific Northwest

Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote.
[Sound of wind]
Stand up and stretch out your arms. If you’re of average height, your “wing span” is somewhere around five and half feet. Now imagine a bird with wings stretching almost twice that!
In 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, while exploring north of the Columbia River, came upon such a bird. “Its outstretched wings measured nine feet, six inches…” *
It was a California Condor.
In the mid-1820’s, [bring in river ambient] David Douglas, the English naturalist, collecting the flora and fauna of the Columbia River country, found the great birds abundant along the lower river. But after 1854, “no naturalist ever reported seeing a condor on the lower Columbia again.”*
By 1983, only 22 California Condors were left in the world.
But people have not let the Condor slip into extinction. Through captive breeding, the bird’s population has increased ten-fold. So now it’s possible, as writer Jack Nisbet does, to imagine one of these ancient birds taking off from the cliffs of California heading north. It could soar “high to catch the southwesterly winds that (blow) in with the big storms, sailing along the ridge tops of the coastal range, (following) the contours of the beach past the giant redwoods…until (it) reached the plentiful offerings of a great river far away.” * “What’s nine hundred miles, after all, under the breadth of ten-foot wings.”*
Find us on the web at birdnote.org.
###
Waves recorded by Kessler Productions.  Ambient behind lower Columbia River country in summer from C. Peterson’s recordings near the Rogue River.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org   September 2017  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#   CACO-02-2012-09-01    CACO-02        

All quotes: Jack Nisbet, Visible Bones: Journeys Across Time in the Columbia River Country. Sasquatch Book. 2003.

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