With the countdown on to the first California condors making their way back to the wilds of Humboldt County in a century, a group of the endangered birds — a gathering known as a "condo" or a "scarcity" — has taken a liking to one woman's deck, roof and yard, apparently creating quite the scene.
About 15 to 20 of the birds have made themselves at home for the last several days, according to the daughter of the inland Southern California homeowner, who has been documenting the condor congregation saga on Twitter, capturing the attention of several media outlets, including SF Gate and the New York Times.
The extremely rare event is made even more extraordinary considering there were only 22 of the majestic birds left back in 1982, a fact not lost on the family.
She does think this is pretty amazing but also the worst. They don’t have to leave her property but leave the house alone. They keep hanging out on her roof and railings messing with stuff and pooping everywhere. Trees are fine but not the house please 🙏 pic.twitter.com/QhE9XVERZF
The SF Gate article (written by former Journal staffer Ashley Harrell) quotes a response from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Twitter account, which notes the woman's home, which the Times reports is in the Tehachapi Mountains, is part of the bird's historic range and offers some advice.
“Unfortunately, [condors] sometimes perceive houses and decks as suitable perch locations,” the response states. “If this happens again, hazing to preclude them from causing damage and habituation is encouraged.”
Suggested deterrents include using a water hose or yelling and clapping. According to the daughter, who goes by Seana Lyn on Twitter, her mother went for the former and it seems to have brought some success, sending the condors to the trees.
Intelligent birds with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, condors are highly social and often roost in groups.
Tianna Williams-Claussen, a Yurok tribal member and wildlife biologist who has been working on the local recovery project since its inception more than a decade ago, told the Journal back in May of 2019, they are "very fun to watch" and definitely have individual personalities that become apparent if you spend enough time with them.
Nearly lost to extinction in the 1980s, condors are integrally connected to the Yurok Tribe, which knowns the bird as prey-go-neesh, and others in the region, where the last reported sighting was near Drain, Oregon, in 1940.
(Read more about the Yurok Tribe's efforts in the Journal's May of 2019 story, "Bringing Prey-go-neesh Home" by clicking here.)
By this fall or next spring, after a release facility in Redwood National Park is completed, the first birds are expected to take flight, bringing California condors back to the northern reaches of its historic range, which once stretched to the Canadian border and east to Utah, Montana and Colorado.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct that SF Gate wrote the piece.