California Condor Named 2011 Bird of the Year

Beauty, schmeauty….this year voters put cast their ballots for one of the world’s rarest, most imperiled, and we think majestic birds to fly the skies of SoCal.

The California condor has been named the 2011 Audubon California Bird of the Year in an annual online poll that invites readers and nature-lovers to choose a feathered friend for the coveted title. Nearly 35 percent of the 10,000 total votes went to the red-headed California condor which, in addition to California, can be found in several southwestern states and Mexico.

By no means delicate or dainty, the magnificent condor is one of the largest flying birds in the world with a wingspan of often more than nine feet. Despite – or in spite of? – its size, the California condor has been on a downward spiral for more than 100 years. It’s been on the endangered list in 1967; in the mid-1980s, only 22 birds existed in the wild which kicked off an aggressive captive breeding and release program by government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Today, there are 394 total condors living with 205 of them out in the wild. Big threats to those condors are wind turbines and lead from ammunition in their prey animals.