Graduation Advice, Condor Style

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There were only 22 California Condors left when they were taken into captivity in 1987 in an attempt to preserve what remained of their genetic diversity.  Reintroduction to the wild began in 1992 and continues today, with California Condor Recovery programs in Big Sur, CA, near the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, in Baja, California, and at Pinnacles National Monument, Paicines, CA.  We were lucky to have Jess Auer, National Park Biologist working with the Condor Recovery Program, visit us on our recent camping trip to tell us about California Condors, her work as a biologist, and answer a lot of questions.  She showed us a life size condor poster, let us hold a skull replica, passed around the radio tags that help scientists track the birds, and shared an exact egg replica which was once used to fool a condor family while a bad egg was being swapped out of their nest.  We all loved learning from her, asking questions and more questions until more than an hour had passed.  Thank you Jess for sharing your knowledge and experience as a scientist.  And many thanks to all the scientists at Pinnacles National Monument for the work you do, and Kimberly Sawyer for connecting us with our fascinating speaker!

The camping trip is a good time for reflection, a chance for us to see ourselves and each other more clearly, and an opportunity to learn from new teachers- like Rhyolite Breccia and California Condors. So, what advice would a condor give to a graduating fifth grader?  This is what I think:


Live it up:  California Condors fly high in the sky and because of their wingspan use little energy soaring up there.  Spread your wings, relax and enjoy the view as often as possible.


Stick together:  California Condors are social animals, and depend on relationships with other condors for survival.  Family and friends are treasures, treat them with care and keep in touch!


Always have hope:  California Condors once numbered only 22 in the world!  Now, there are 405 birds in the world, thanks to the California Condor Recovery Program.  Anything is possible, work to make this world the kind of place you believe it can be!


I wish the graduating class of 2012 the best that life can offer.  You are wonderful students: so curious, hard-working, and creative.  This world is a better place with you in it! 

Learn more!

Pinnacles Condor Program

Defenders of Wildlife, Condor facts

My Condor

California Condor Conservation