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Sierra Magazine
Lay of the Land

Bugs in Free Trade | Hog Tide | Condors Come Home to Roost

Condors Come Home to Roost

Imagine Les Reid's surprise upon entering his bedroom to find it full of giant condors. "There were eight in the room," says Reid, a former Sierra Club director. One bird was tearing the stuffing out of the bed; another had a pair of Reid's undershorts in its mouth. "I think they were Sierra Club members having a meeting," he says, "because they couldn't reach a consensus on what to tear up first." The young birds were among the 29 captive-raised condors now flying free in California—15 to 20 of whom have taken to hanging out around Reid's hometown of Pine Mountain Club in Southern California.

Ironically, Reid had opposed removing birds from the wild and breeding them in captivity, saying that greater efforts should be directed toward preserving their habitat. His own encounter confirms his fear that captive breeding would make "great big friendly barnyard chicks" out of the majestic birds. "They haven't produced one chick that can survive in the wild," he says. But Reid refuses to allow federal biologists onto his property to scare the condors off. "I like them," he says. "They add a certain flavor to this community."
—Paul Rauber


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