eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 43, No. 2
June 2012
Western Field Ornithologists

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The California Condor in Northwestern North America
Brian E. Sharp

ABSTRACT: Native Americans, European and American explorers, fur trappers, and settlers observed the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) in the Columbia River basin, the Cascade Range, along the Snake River in Idaho, as far north as latitude 52° in British Columbia, and east of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and Montana. Before European contact, indigenous people were familiar with and culturally connected to the California Condor in northwestern North America. The condor occurred year round and possibly persisted until the mid-20th century. Oral history of condor chicks kept in Indian villages attests to the condor’s nesting in the Pacific Northwest. Historical accounts of the condor’s food and foraging suggest that poisoning was the primary cause of the species’ extirpation from this region.

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