For the birds

As many Americans eat turkey today, my thoughts go to birds in the wild I have seen this past year on my travels.

12-12-12 was a special day for me when I came across a mother and juvenile California condors feasting on a dead seal washed up on the rocks at Soberanes Point, Garrapata State Park about 14 miles south of Monterey.

Condor 77

California condors are the largest bird in the USA. Condor #77 is Phoenix, a male juvenile hatched April 22, 2008 and actually is condor number 477. Wild1, condor #31, is the mother of Phoenix and his father is condor #199 The Great One, who is a large condor.  These California condors were the first two condors to lay an egg and raise it themselves in the Big Sur wilderness in recent decades. Phoenix is the first wild born California condor in Big Sur from the revitalization program for the species.

Phoenix received his name due to surviving the Big Sur Basin Complex major fire of June 2008 when much of Big Sur burned. Phoenix hatched two months before the summer fire and the grove of coast redwoods where his nest was high up in a tall redwood burned about half way up the tree. The crown of the redwood grove survived and so did Phoenix, arising from the ashes after the fire passed.

Condors can live 60 years.

– See more at:

Condor in flight

California Condors have a wing span of 9 to 9.5 feet and are the largest flying birds of North America.


Elkhorn Slough is one of the best places around Monterey Bay for seeing birds. All these birds, some kind of tern I think, were relaxing in the tidal zone at low tide when suddenly they decided to take flight.

I was photographing butterflies a few weeks ago when I spotted this Coopers Hawk or Sharp-shinned hawk sitting on a branch of a Monterey Pine. Identifying birds is hard. I make attempts, but I often get them incorrect.

Coopers Hawk

Hawk in Pacific Grove.

In summer there were dozens of American White Pelicans at Moss Landing. And then a week later I saw a single American White Pelican at 8,000 feet on a lake up in the Colorado Rockies.


American white pelican in Moss Landing.

There are usually numerous brown pelicans soaring over the water along the California coast whenever I go to the seashore.

brown pelicans

Pelicans at Point Pinos, Pacific Grove.

On my trip to Toronto in June I spent several hours on the Toronto Islands in a canoe and hiking observing the beautiful swans.


Mute swan in Toronto.

A couple months back I was driving one of the country roads of San Benito County about 30 miles northeast of Monterey when I had to stop my car on a rural road to let the wild turkeys cross.

wild turkeys

Wild turkeys near San Juan Bautista, California.

I have spent quite a bit of time with birds over the past year and today seemed to be a good day to look back over my encounters.

Happy Thanksgiving.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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