Once nearly ex­tinct, Cal­i­for­nia con­dors re­cov­er­ing nicely in na­tional park

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Steve Stephens • To see more images of Pin­na­cles Na­tional Park, visit Dis­patch.com/pho­tos.

PAICINES, Calif. — I didn’t know any­thing about Pin­na­cles Na­tional Park, ex­cept that it prob­a­bly had pin­na­cles, when I vis­ited the park dur­ing a trip to Cal­i­for­nia last month.

So I cer­tainly didn’t sus­pect that my im­promptu, 50-mile de­tour to the park, in­spired by a high­way sign, would give me a glimpse of a wildlife miracle, one I would have thought im­pos­si­ble just a few years ago.

Cal­i­for­nia con­dors were on the brink of ex­tinc­tion within re­cent mem­ory. In 1982, only 23 mem­bers of the species, the largest land birds in North Amer­ica, sur­vived, all in cap­tiv­ity. More on­line Had some­one told me then that I’d ever see a Cal­i­for­nia con­dor in the wild, I would have scoffed and pegged them as an en­vi­ron­men­tal op­ti­mist.

But since that time, a re­mark­able con­dor­recov­ery pro­gram has greatly in­creased the num­ber of birds.

Ad­mit­tedly, I’m a bit be­hind in my con­dor news. So when I stopped at the Pin­na­cles Vis­i­tors Cen­ter and a ranger showed me on a park map where con­dors had been seen in re­cent days, my response was, “Wait. Strange for­ma­tions, cre­ated by vol­ca­noes and shift­ing ge­o­log­i­cal faults, can be seen at the park.

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