Condor Refuge at Bitter Creekby Joel Bermanpublished on
A trip to the condor refuge which was fascinating, but unfortunately no condors were seen.
May 21, 2022 gave me the opportunity to visit the Bitter Creek Condor Refuge which is a fascinating place to visit even though I did not see any condors. The visit was sponsored by the Friends of California Condors Wild and Free which is run by Stacy and Mel Bergman, two delightful people from Ventura.
We were accompanied by a park ranger who was very knowledgeable about condors and the program. You can read an interesting report about the current population and threats.
While you can learn more from Google than I can tell you the items I found interesting were about the sociability among condors and some of the adaptions nature has bestowed on them. The population is very threatened by man and our construction and hunting. Condors only eat carrion and a lot of carrion has been left by hunters who use lead bullets and the high acid content of the condors stomach quickly dissolves the lead and they wind up poisoning themselves. The Los Angeles Zoo has been active at chelating the lead from sick condors, but it is a difficult and lengthy process. Lead has been banned in the US for many years in paint and then in gas, but there is no ban on lead bullets although California does have a law which forbids shooting game with lead.
One of my pictures is of a telephone pole. It isn't connected to anything except a low voltage source which gives any condor alighting on it a mild shock. After a few times they stop landing on power poles. And even more interesting, condors that have never undergone this aversion therapy have learned from their relatives who have. So many condors will not land on poles. With their 9' wingspan they can easily electrocute them selves by completing a circuit.
Some of the Native American people pray through condors. Because they do not kill and instead clean up dead animals, and because they fly high in the skys, the Chumash for example, do honor and revere them and count on condors to carry their prayers.
All of the condors in California have wing tags and many have GPS transmitters so biologists can learn their habits and better protect them.
I plan to head for the hills and eventually get a picture of the California condor. I have some picture of the Andes condor which is the national bird of Columbia. Interestingly
, when the US first started the breeding program they brought in some Andean condors to mingle and teach the California ones how to survive. They only brought in females so there has been no mix between the two types.