"BIG SUR, Calif. — In a remote, rugged valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean, researchers closely monitor an endangered icon: the California condor.
The giant vultures flap their wings and circle the sky before perching on branches and observing their observers. Wildlife biologist Amy List uses a handheld antenna to track the birds, which wear radio transmitters and numbered tags.
“If we don’t know what they’re doing, we don’t know what’s going wrong,” said List, who works for the Ventana Wildlife Society, which manages the condor sanctuary in Big Sur.
Three decades after being pushed to the brink of extinction, the California condor is making a comeback in the wild, but constant vigilance is needed to ensure the endangered bird doesn’t reverse course.
One of the world’s largest birds with a wingspan up to 10 feet, the condor once patrolled the sky from Mexico to British Columbia. But its population plummeted in the 20th century due to lead poisoning, hunting and habitat destruction."