An Endangered Kind of Ugly

an-endangered-kind-of-uglyThis rather ugly-looking bird is a California Condor. In truth, their ugliness is a magnificently efficient design. They are scavenger birds akin to the vulture. As such they stick their heads in rotting carcasses to feed. Their bald head is easier to keep clean than those of birds that have feathers on their heads. Gross I know, but they serve a vital role of cleaning away diseased corpses from the ecosystem.

These are the largest native birds to North America and have been known to have a nine and a half foot wing span. According to, in 1987 the giant scavengers actually went extinct in the wild. In 1992, the giants were reintroduced into the wild, but as of 2013 there are still only 435 found in the wild. I feel very blessed to have found this one and several others while hiking the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. A large flock of the birds call the canyon home, another great ongoing success story of our National Park System.

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