Giant California condors are rare – but not at Cinda Mickols’ home.
More than 15 condors, an endangered bird whose population hovers at around 160 in the state and under 500 in the US, have recently taken a liking to Mickol’s house in Tehachapi – and they’ve made quite a mess.
Mickols’ daughter, Seana Quintero, began posting photos of the rowdy guests on Twitter on Tuesday, documenting her mom’s encounters with the creatures.
Quintero explained the birds had arrived on the weekend, and had taken a liking to her mom’s outdoor deck.
“Checked in with mom, they’re still hanging out ominously on one of her trees but thankfully are not on the house at the moment,” Quintero wrote on Wednesday. “She’s reaching out to some condor groups to alert them so they can observe the birds and maybe help keep them off her house.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service noted on Twitter that Quintero’s mom’s house is located in historic condor habitat, and suggested that Mickols try harmless hazing like shouting and clapping or spraying water.
Mickols indeed sprayed the birds with a hose on Thursday morning, her daughter said, her latest attempt to deal with the impolite guests.
“As of this morning there were a few back on her roof that she gave a ‘shower’ with the hose and now they’re chilling with the rest of the flock on a tree on her property,” Quintero said.
Quintero said the wealth of wildlife in the area is a large reason her mother moved there, but she has gotten more than she bargained for with the condor shenanigans.
“She is in awe of it while also being very annoyed,” Quintero added. “We’re just hoping they start sticking to the trees, she enjoys watching them out there.”
The condor once soared from British Columbia to Mexico, but habitat loss, overhunting and poisoning from hunting ammunition drove them to near extinction. The birds almost vanished in the 1980s. Biologists captured the remaining birds and began a breeding program before ultimately introducing them back to the wild.
Since then, the condor has been reintroduced to southern and central California. Its population has expanded into parts of Utah, Arizona and Baja California in Mexico.
Nine condors were killed in the historic California wildfires of 2020, which burned down a condor sanctuary in Big Sur and an occupied nest. The climate crisis continues to threaten the fragile populations.
In March, the Yurok tribe announced it would reintroduce the bird over its ancestral lands, which encompass large swaths of forest and coastline in northern California and parts of Redwood national park.