Have you ever seen a California Condor? They are simply spectacular. My best and favorite condor encounter was while biking on Gooseberry Mesa. We had stopped to rest and and snack along the cliff edge near The Point, and as we lounged and soaked in the sun, two condors floated in and rode the updrafts around us for a while. They were enormous, other-worldly, wild, free birds looking decidedly uninterested in us, but definitely purposeful on some mystery task. What a treat to see these rare birds, right there in front of us.
I have seen condors other times, most reliable at the observation station in the Vermillion Cliffs area. When my wife and I first visited, we read the sign, which said we could expect to see California Condors above the cliffs, and thought that was ridiculous. Imagine being a few miles down a dirt road, with nobody around, in the middle of nowhere, and trying to believe a sign that says one of the rarest birds on Earth will show up sometime in the next hour or so. We went for a hike to find an old pioneer spring nearby, and lo and behold, on our hike back to the truck, there were condors overhead. If you’re interesting in visiting the Vermillion Cliffs Condor Viewing Site, just click the link for directions.
I can’t call myself a proper bird lover or condor connoisseur, but I do enjoy reading the updates on their health and progress from time to time. Ranger Marker Marshall of Grand Canyon National Park recently released a lengthy update on the U.S. captive and wild condor populations, which tells lots of good, short stories about how various condors and condor pairs are doing. Spring brings news of nesting and eggs, of course, and Marker tells us which birds are succeeding in growing the condor population. Looks like we almost had breeding pair in Zion, but unfortunately the male bird consumed some lead and had to be captured for treatment. Hopefully, they will succeed in helping come back to us.