The California Condor in Utah

Index:  | Utah Info | Reintroduction | Article on Release | Article on problems | Photos | Status of Individuals | Other Articles |
Historical Background
From 1871

Information from "Utah Birds: A Revised Checklist" (1985)
by Behle, Sorensen and White

  • First possible sighting in Utah - Near Beaver, Beaver county, 25 Nov1871 (Henshaw, 1975:428)

  • Another possible sighting - Mark Jackson, a taxidermist in Parowan, told A.W. Woodbury in 1932 that sheepherders had reported condors feeding on sheep carcasses during the sever winters in western Iron County.

  • Approximate population in 1985 - 17 individuals (in California)

Vermilion Cliffs Reintroduction
1996 - Captive Release Program

Key Dates:

  • 29 Oct 1996 - California Condors were brought to the Vermilion Cliffs in Northern Arizona and placed in a release facility.
  • 12 Dec 1996 - Six California Condors were released to the Vermilion Cliffs of  the Paria Plateau, just south of the Utah border.

| Map to Condor Release Viewing Site |

Article released by the Peregrine Fund  (December 2000)

Provided by Charlie Sheard

" The public is invited to congregate below the towering 1,000 foot Vermillion Cliffs to observe the release of nine young California Condors at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 29, 2000. Follow Highway 89A for 27 miles west of Marble Canyon and turn north (right) on House Rock Road for three miles. Weather-permitting, the roads are easily passable in two-wheel vehicles and will be clearly marked on December 29. Observers are advised to wear layered warm clothing (temperatures could be near freezing) and to bring ample food and drinks. Bringing spotting scopes or powerful binoculars and a lawn chair will enhance the experience. Observers should be advised that there are no shelters or restroom accommodations at the observation site. Biologists and land managers will be on site to provide information, answer questions, and celebrate the occasion."

 E-bulletin  from SONA and NWRA (September 2005)
Provided by Pomera Fronce


It was only about twenty years ago that the chances for California Condor survival seemed almost hopeless. Since then, daring approaches, solid science, hard work, and a spirit of optimism have buoyed chances for the condor's positive future.

With healthy appearing experimental populations flying free, it seems as though we may have turned the corner, or at least approached the corner, for this species.

Lead bullets in the environment (i.e., in carrion) have been seen as the only significant impediment to condor population growth, while other things have certainly been looking up.

Last month, however, researchers at the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in California had to remove a condor chick from the nest of male #21 and female #192. The chick appeared to be underdeveloped and was losing
feathers; however, once in hand, the bird to have something impacted in its crop and gut.

After transporting the chick to the Los Angeles Zoo, and following a three-hour operation, an astounding amount of material was removed from the ventriculus and proventriculus of the condor chick. The following items were among the debris removed from the chick: 4 bottle caps and a screw top, 3 electrical fittings, 5 washers, 13 22-caliber shell-casings, 1 38-caliber shell-casing, a shotgun-shell, several pieces of plastic bags, about a quarter cup of broken glass and a similar amount of broken plastic, a few small pieces of fabric, 4 small stones, a metal bracket, a piece of wire, and a few small pieces of rubber.

Fortunately, it did not appear that any of this remarkable collection of detritus perforated the gut, and currently the chick appears to be doing well.

Does this mean that all adult condors are attracted to ubiquitous shiny objects and will bring them back to their nest for their chicks? Or does this simply mean that male #21 and/or female #192 have this tendency? If the first option is the case, then the species is clearly in deep trouble, since these sorts of objects are virtually everywhere in a condor's
environment. If the second is the case - with this unfortunate chick simply having "idiot parents" - then we should remain hopeful.

This E-bulletin is distributed as a joint effort between Swarovski Optik of North America (SONA) and the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA).


 Is lead to blame for death of Zion condor?  (20 Jan 2013)
Article in the Salt Lake Tribune -- Sent in by Pomera Fronce




Vermilion Cliffs of the Paria Plateau
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul

Vermilion Cliffs
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul
Condor Cages on the Vermilion Cliffs
(30 Jan 2005)  by Milt Moody    İMilton G. Moody
California Condor Flying near Cages
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul
Condors Feeding
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul
Close-up of Condor Feeding
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul

 Condor Soaring in the Virmilion Cliffs
(1 Mar 2005)  by Dave Rintoul    İDavid A. Rintoul
California Condor in Utah
1996 - Captive Release

 Juvenile Condor at Lava Point, Zion National Park, Utah
(May 2004)  by Larry Tripp    İLarry Tripp

Some Sightings in Utah

Sightings of the California Condor in Utah have become more frequent especially in southern Utah, however, condors have been reported as far north as Vernal, in northeastern Utah.  Here are a few specific sightings.  The list should grow.

  • 25 Nov 1871 - near Beaver, Beaver Co. reported by Henshaw

  • about 1932 - western Iron Co. Reported by Woodbury (occasionally seen by sheepherders)

  • 13 Apr 2003 - Zion NP, Washington Co. by John Cavitt | Hotline Report |

  • May 2004 - Zion NP, Washington Co. by Larry Tripp (see photo below)

  • 11 Mar 2005 - Near Hela Segmiller Park, Washington Co. reported by Laurie Rasmussen (seen by a friend)  "an adult (red head) eating off the side of the road"


Back to Feature Page