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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The California Condor: A very Personal experience with one of the worlds most endangered animals

As a wildlife photographer, I am always looking for an opportunity to get close to wild animals. Several years ago, when rumors started to fly about California Condors frequenting the Kolob area near Zion National park, I decided to investigate and see for myself.

The first time I saw them, I found five, birds near a mountain cabin at the present viewing site. They were perched in the top of a tree and on the nearby rocks.

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I took several photos and was just admiring them when I heard the rushing of the wind coming from close behind me. I instinctively ducked, slightly as a giant pair of wings passed no more than two feet over my head.

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I can still remember feeling the air pressure change which caused me to lurch forward slightly as the condor passed by. It was a mature bird with a wingspan of over 9 feet and it landed on the fence not more than 30 feet in front of me.

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I got several close photos and the experience left me with a feeling of awe for this very special bird.

Since that time I have viewed and photographed condors many times. I have watched them as they perform aerial ballets for the crowds that gather to see them on “The Day of the Condor” and since this is not a scientific writing, I can tell you that I am convinced that they enjoy putting on a show for people. I think that that bird was intentionally messing with me when it flew so close over my head.

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Because of that first experience, I feel a tie with condors and I love to share these birds with others that may come away from the experience feeling a little stronger link with wildlife.

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