Design Inspiration: Endangered American Birds, California Condor

california condor head with red eyes, orange face and black feathers spread in a crown around head

Original California Condor watercolor

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

Jane Goodall

California Condor

After reading about the drastic decline in avian species last year, I subsequently started researching and sketching endangered American birds, and the California Condor was easy to fall for.

The whole studio became enchanted by these new world vultures — their wingspan equals the length of a bottlenose dolphin or the height of an Asian male elephant, and they are indisputably regal. We decided to bring these birds to life in our products to raise awareness about their vulnerability. The California Condor followed the Whooping Crane and is now joined by the Piping Plover and all are now new silk scarves, tote bags and notebooks.

Inside cover of the Condor notebook

About the California Condor

The California Condor has been a North America native for at least 40,000 years. In 1987 the population dwindled to just twenty seven worldwide, thanks to shooting, poisoning, electric power lines, egg collecting, and habitat loss.

Through a captive breeding program led by the San Diego Zoo, the Condor population began to increase through the early 1990s, and the birds were gradually re-introduced into the wild. The Ventana Wildlife Society started releasing Condors in Northern California in 1997 and has joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and many others in the fight to monitor and manage wild California Condors ever since. As a result of this collaboration, the population of Condors is growing. In 2006, Condors were found nesting in Big Sur – the first known wild nesting attempt in California in more than 100 years. The birds were also seen feeding on a whale carcass that same year, which was last documented by Lewis and Clark during their fabled exploration of the American West in 1805.

New Hazards

Although the Condor population has been increasing over the last few decades, the birds, like most of us, are facing the impact of climate change. The recent California wildfires have been catastrophic to the Ventana sanctuary and for the Condor population across the state.

The damage from the Dolan fire is still being monitored, but we know that the Big Sur sanctuary has been destroyed and at least 13 Condors are unaccounted for.

If you would like to help rebuild the sanctuary and support the Condors please visit the Ventana Wildlife Sanctuary. On August 27th, VWS is hosting its annual auction and our studio has donated ten Condor notebooks to help their efforts. More information regarding the auction and virtual presentations can be found here. There will also be an e-celebration for National Vulture Awareness Day on September 5th.

New Condor notebooks and tote bag launching this fall.
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