US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1422, 255 p.


Published in Perry, M.C., ed.


By the late 1970s, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) was in serious trouble, with probably no more than about 30 birds left in existence, all in a mountainous region just north of Los Angeles that is vegetated mainly in chaparral and grasslands. All estimates of population size and trends offered since the early condor studies by Carl Koford in the 1930s and 1940s indicated a continuing decline toward extinction, and it appeared that few years were left before the species would be gone (see Koford, 1953; Wilbur, 1978). Evidently, the conservation steps that had been taken, including the creation of a number of important condor reserves, were not resulting in recovery of the species.