The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. This condor inhabits northern Arizona and southern Utah (including the Grand Canyon area and Zion National Park), coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California. Although other fossil members are known, it is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps.
The plumage is black with patches of white on the underside of the wings and the head is largely bald, with skin color ranging from gray on young birds to yellow and bright orange on breeding adults. Its huge 3.0 meter/9.8 Feet wingspan is the largest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 26 lbs. makes it the heaviest bird native to North America. Only the Trumpeter Swan has a comparable weight among native North American birds. The condor is a scavenger and eats large amounts of carrion. It is one of the world's longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.
Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 20th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction. A conservation plan was put in place by the United States government that led to the capture of all 22 remaining wild condors in 1987. These surviving birds were bred at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. Numbers rose through captive breeding and, beginning in 1991, condors have been reintroduced into the wild. The project is the most expensive species conservation project ever undertaken in the United States. The California Condor is one of the world's rarest bird species: as of December 2011, there are 390 condors known to be living, including 210 in the wild. The condor is a significant bird to many Californian Native American groups and plays an important role in several of their traditional myths.