Ponder the Condor

by Laura Overdeck

There’s a big bird on TV, but as tall and yellow as that one is, it’s got nothing on the California condor. This bird has a massive 10-foot wingspan and can fly faster than 50 MPH, reaching heights of 15,000 feet! A condor can travel 160 miles in a single day looking for food. They like to nest and hang out on high cliffs so they can soar around on warm winds. But the coolest thing about the California condor is that it exists at all. Back in 1987, there were only 22 of these birds in the world, and they were all in zoos. Today there are nearly 500 California condors, including 276 soaring and swooping in the wild!

Wee ones: Flap your arms like a condor 5 times and count the flaps out loud!

Little kids: How big do you think your “wingspan” is? Spread your arms wide and have a grown-up measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip. Bonus: Condors live longer than most birds – up to 60 years! How much older is a 60-year-old condor than you?

Big kids: If a condor is flying at 12,000 feet, then swoops to 1/2 that height above the ground, and then dives again to cut the height in 1/2 again, at what new height is it flying? Bonus: If a condor flies 160 miles in 1 day, and it sleeps for 8 hours, how far did it travel on average in 1 awake hour?

Wee ones: Count the flaps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! 

Little kids: See how wide your wingspan is – we bet it’s less than 10 feet! Bonus: Different for everyone… subtract your age from 60.

Big kids: 3,000 feet, because it goes from 12,000 to 6,000 feet, then 1/2 of 6,000 is 3,000. Bonus: 10 miles, because it’s awake for 16 hours, and 160 miles / 16 = 10.

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