21 August 2009

Condor return

An AP report begins:
The tribes of the lower Klamath River have since ancient times decorated themselves with condor feathers when they performed the dances designed to heal a world gone wrong.

"It can soar the highest, so we figured that was the one to get our prayers to heaven when we were asking for the world to be in balance," said Richard Myers, a member of the Yurok Tribal Council and a leader in the revival of the tribe's world renewal ceremonies.

Now the Yurok Tribe is using modern science in hopes of restoring condors, which have not soared above the northern coast of California since 1914...

A small excerpt from a draft chapter of my book which looks into the history of flight goes as follows:

So many California condors got zapped on power lines during the twentieth century that by the mid 1980s less than two dozen remained out of what had once been thousands. By some accounts, though, native peoples were already killing the bird in pre-industrial times in order to use the feathers in ceremonial headdresses. Certainly, the condor had mythic power, for good or bad. The Wiyot say that Condor recreated mankind after Old Man wiped out humanity with a flood. The Mono believe that Condor seized humans, cut off their heads and drained their blood in order to flood the home of Ground Squirrel. The Yokut say Condor ate the moon, causing the lunar cycle, and made eclipses with his wings.

Since the 1986 the bird has made a comeback thanks to a captive breeding programme. Chicks born at the Los Angeles and San Diego Zoos receive early lessons in life skills such as power line avoidance from Condor adults that are actually glove-puppets. The puppeteers must remain carefully hidden because if the chicks see a human they imprint upon them and never become wild birds.

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