The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture, the largest North American land bird. Currently, this condor inhabits only the Grand Canyon area, Zion National Park, and 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.
It is black with patches of white on the underside of the wings and a largely bald head, with skin color ranging from yellowish to a bright red depending on the bird's mood. Its almost 3.0 meter wingspan is the largest of any North American bird, and its weight of up to 29 lbs. makes it the heaviest as well. 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. Eventually, 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 Wild Animal 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 April 2011, there are 394 condors known to be living, including 181 in the wild.