California Condor Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

California condors are large, black birds that are in danger of disappearing forever. Come learn about these birds, the important job they have, what they look like, and some other cool facts about them.

What are California Condors?

You're riding along in the car when you notice a couple of really large, black birds with bald heads standing by the side of the road. And although your idea of a delicious meal is probably pizza or a hamburger, these birds have a different idea of what makes a good snack and are chowing down on a dead animal. Those are California condors.

California condors are the biggest birds in North America that can fly. They have black and white feathers and a bald head that can be different colors including white, pink, or reddish-purple. The biggest males can weigh up to 25 pounds, which is about how much three gallons of milk weigh.

California condor
California condor

When condors stretch their wings out, they can reach almost 10 feet from the tips! That's the same as about 10 rulers lined up end-to-end! And with such a huge wingspan, condors are great at flying and soaring on wind currents. They can climb as high as 15,000 feet in the sky, which is almost 3 miles up!

Though California condors may not be the prettiest bird you've ever seen, they have a very important job.

What Do California Condors Eat?

Just like garbage (wo)men come to your house to take away the trash in your neighborhood, California condors are like the sanitation workers of the animal world. They are carnivores and only eat meat, but they don't hunt live animals. They are called scavengers because they eat animals that have already died, helping to keep their environment clean.

California condors have bald heads because their food would get caught in their feathers while they ate. That would be unhealthy and messy for the birds, like trying to eat a pie with no hands while wearing a fluffy scarf and hat.

California condor with bald head
California condor with bald head

Though they will eat smaller animals, California condors look for bigger animals like dead deer or cows so they can pig out. But sometimes they eat so much that they have to wait a few hours before they can fly again, like when you eat too much ice cream and just want to sit on the couch.

Where Do California Condors Live?

California condors like to hang out in places that have trees and are rocky like mountains, canyons, and valleys.

California condor over the Grand Canyon
California condor over the Grand Canyon

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