That is probably not a California Condor in your backyard

Photo from Elysian Heights resident

An Elysian Heights resident living near Baxter and Alvardo streets snapped the above photo of the rather large and unusual bird that visited his hilly backyard earlier today and on Sunday. He wondered if it could it be a rare California Condor. “I wish i got a shot of it in flight … it was majestic,” he said via email.  The bird pictured above does have the distinctive – and kind of ugly – bald, red head that are common to rare California Condors. However, in this case, the bird appears to be a rather common turkey vulture, said Jeff Chapman with the Audubon Center at Debs Park. Said Chapman:

A condor would be exciting and very unusual to see in the basin … but this appears to be a juvenile turkey vulture.   Still cool to see, but common to the LA area.


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  1. It’s a Turkey Vulture and has been hanging out for about a month. It likes dead things. I wonder where it’s flock is?

  2. Alijill is exactly right. Turkey vultures are common throughout the Southern California region, but they are markedly smaller in size than condors. As majestic as a turkey vulture might be in flight, it’s nothing compared to the awe a condor. A condor’s nine-foot wingspan is nearly double that of a turkey vulture’s. Other than the ones in captivity in the off-exhibit breeding program at the Los Angeles Zoo, I’d wager the closest California condors are in the Sespe Sanctuary north and west of Magic Mountain.

    Here’s a condor I photographed along the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 2006:

  3. wow great photo, Will, thanks! Just thought I’d mention that I witnessed 7 of these feeding on something on the hillside below where Morton turns into Duane, near Park Dr., last year about this time…Love Echo Park for the wildlife!

  4. “I wish i got a shot of it in flight … it was majestic”….hilarious! I bet it will be really hilarious when its picking the scraps from your dead dog off your backyard

  5. PDS demonstrates how easy it is to gracelessly demean someone who strives to see the grace in nature.

  6. @ PDS
    Keep playing a fool. Vultures and Condors don’t kill. They are scavengers. If my dead dog has been in the backyard long enough to attract these birds then I must be long gone to.

  7. Turkey Vultures when in flight are among the most graceful birds. Their flight seems so effortless and their widespread wings and long, rounded tails make lovely silhouettes as they soar about for hours at a time.

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