Get up close with a California condor at Santa Monica Mountains’ bird fest

A live California condor, the largest flying bird in North America and one that has been brought back from the brink of extinction, will make an appearance at the Santa Monica Mountains’ Bird Fest this weekend.

The condor named Dolly from the L.A. Zoo will be on display from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the national parkland’s Interagency Visitor Center.

California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) have a 10-foot wingspan and can soar as high as 15,000 feet. They have black bodies with a feathery ruff around the neck and bald, red heads.

In 1982, their numbers fell to 22, prompting wildlife experts to capture the last remaining birds and start a captive breeding program to save the species. Their numbers plummeted because condors eat dead animals, which inadvertently exposed them to lead poisoning from spent ammunition.

Today there are more than 200 condors, though many still live in captivity. They can be found in the wild in coastal mountain ranges from Big Sur to Ventura County, through the Transverse Range and the southern Sierra. Other populations flourish in the Grand Canyon area in Arizona.

Aside from the condor, visitors can expect to see pelicans, Cooper’s hawks, owls, kestrels and others brought by .

The day begins with guided bird walks followed by lectures on bird photography and how to woo wild birds into your garden. Speakers from the zoo, National Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will make presentations.

Bird Fest is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center at Mulholland Highway in Calabasas.

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