North America's largest bird has not had an easy go of it, and after a century of absence, a pair of critically endangered birds has made the Pinnacles National Monument a roost to raise their young. In the early 1980s, due to loss of habitat, hunting, pesticides, egg collection, power line collisions and lead poisonings, the condor’s numbers had dwindled to fewer than 25 in the wild. In 1987 the final nine were caught and entered into a breeding program.
The Pinnacles National Monument joined the California Condor Recovery Program in 2003 and this year may have a welcome addition to the 26 free flying condors already inhabiting the area. Today, the total population of California condors is up to 348. One hundred and sixty-one reside in captive breeding centers with the rest free flying in California, Mexico and Arizona.