Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"California Condor"
Includes ... California Condor ... Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation ...
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


California Condor ...
"The spectacular but endangered California Condor is the largest bird in North America. These superb gliders travel widely to feed on carcasses of deer, pigs, cattle, sea lions, whales, and other animals. Pairs nest in caves high on cliff faces. The population fell to just 22 birds in the 1980s, but there are now some 230 free-flying birds in California, Arizona, and Baja California with another 160 in captivity. Lead poisoning remains a severe threat to their long-term prospects. ...

Condors are masterful soarers that rarely flap their wings. They have a solid, heavy appearance in the air, and dont get buffeted by the wind in the way that smaller soaring birds do. Condors are social birds that form groups around carcasses, at bathing spots, and at roosts.

California Condors scavenge for carrion in habitats ranging from Pacific beaches to mountain forests and meadows. They nest in caves on cliff faces in mountains up to 6,000 feet in elevation. Their size makes take-off difficult, leading them to use high perches for easier take-offs. ...

One reason California Condor recovery has been slow is their extremely slow reproduction rate. Female condors lay only one egg per nesting attempt, and they dont always nest every year. The young depend on their parents for more than 12 months, and take 6-8 years to reach maturity."


Source:    Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2017, "All About Birds".


Lewis and Clark and the California Condor ...
From the Journals:

  • Weather diary, October 29, 1805, Columbia River above the Little White Salmon River:
    "... rained moderately all day. Saw the first large Buzzard or Voultur of the Columbia. ..."

  • Clark, October 30, 1805, near the Cascade Rapids:
    "... this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. ..."

  • Ordway, October 30, 1805, near the Cascade Rapids:
    "... we Saw a great number of Swan and geese along the Shores. Some turkey bazzards which had white under their wings. Capt. Clark killed a black loon. ..."

  • Whitehouse, October 30, 1805, near the Cascade Rapids:
    "... we Saw a great nomber of Swan and geese, turkey buzzards which had white on their wings &c.    Capt. Clark killed a black loon. ..."

  • Clark, November 18, 1805, while on the Lower Columbia:
    "... Rubin Fields Killed a Buzzard of the large Kind ...    W. 25 lb. measured from the tips of the wings across 9 1/2 feet, from the point of the Bill to the end of the tail 3 feet 10 1/4 inches, middle toe 5 1/2 inches, toe nale 1 inch & 3 lines, wing feather 2 1/2 feet long & 1 inch 5 lines diamiter tale feathers 14 1/2 inches, and the head is 6 1/2 inches including the beak. ..."

  • Clark, February 16, 1806, while at Fort Clatsop:
    "... Shannon an Labiesh brought in to us to day a Buzzard or Vulture of the Columbia which they had wounded and taken alive. I believe this to be the largest Bird of North America.    it was not in good order and yet it wayed 25 lbs    had it have been so it might very well have weighed 10 lbs. more or 35 lbs. between the extremities of the wings it measured 9 feet 2 Inches; from the extremity of the beak to that of the toe 3 feet 9 inches and a half.    ... [more description not included here] ...    we have Seen it feeding on the remains of the whale and other fish which have been thrown up by the waves on the Sea Coast.    these I believe constitute their principal food, but I have no doubt but that they also feed on flesh.    we did not meet with this bird un[t]ille we had decended the Columbia below the great falls; and have found them more abundant below tide water than above.    this is the Same Species of Bird which R. Field killed on the 18th of Novr. last and which is noticed on that day tho' not fully discribed then I thought this of the Buzzard Specis. I now believe that this bird is reather of the Vulture genus than any other, tho' it wants Some of their characteristics particularly the hair on the neck, and the feathers on the legs.    this is a handsom bird at a little distance.    it's neck is proportionably longer than those of the Hawks or Eagle. ...    Shannon and Labiesh informed us that when he approached this Vulture after wounding it, that it made a loud noise very much like the barking of a Dog. the tongue is long firm and broad, filling the under Chap and partakeing of its transvirs curvature, or its Sides forming a longitudinal Groove; obtuse at the point, the margin armed with firm cartelagenous prickkles pointed and bending inwards. ..."

  • Lewis, February 17, 1806, while at Fort Clatsop:
    "... Shannon & Labuishe brought me one of the large carrion Crow or Buzzads of the Columbia which they had wounded and taken alive. I bleive this to be the largest bird of North America. it was not in good order ... [rest of text mirrors Captain Clark's February 16 writings].

  • Gass, March 16, 1806, while at Fort Clatsop:
    "... Yesterday while I was absent getting our meat home, one of the hunters killed two vultures, the largest fowls I have ever seen. I never saw any such as these except on the Columbia river and the seacoast."

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon ...

Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Display, California Condor, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.
Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Display, California Condor, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.
Image, 2013, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon,  click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Display, California Condor, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken May 8, 2013.


Saving the California Condor

Condor Recovery ...
"The California condor was the first species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. By 1987, the entire wild population had been reduced to 22 wild birds, which were taken into captivity to form the nucleus of today's California condor recovery program. The first birds were reintroduced into the wild in 1992."


Source:    "OregonZoo.org" website, 2017.

Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation ...
The Oregon Zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation is a 52-acre facility designed to limit human contact to maximize the young condors' ability to thrive in the wild once they are released. The Center was established in 2003 with six breeding pairs taking up residence. The first chick was hatched in 2004 and in 2006 the first Oregon Zoo Condor was released into the wild. The Center has space for 53 condors, including 11 breeding pairs.

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


September 19, 2015 ...
The three barns with the bird enclosures is completely tarped off so the birds do not see humans. Folks must whisper only and be as quiet as possible.

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


California Condors ...
California Condors have a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, with the bird being nearly 4 feet from top of head to tip of tail.

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Fuzz on bridge of nose is from something else, not a part of the bird.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Fuzz on bridge of nose is from something else, not a part of the bird.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Fledgling ...

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fledgling, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


"Bachelor Male" ...

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Bachelor male", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


This male has yet to find a mate and lives by himself. His compound was in the shade, thus he had his neck feathers raised, warming his neck.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Bachelor male", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


This male has yet to find a mate and lives by himself. His compound was in the shade, thus he had his neck feathers raised, warming his neck.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Bachelor male", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Some reflections from the window in the images.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Bachelor male", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Some reflections from the window in the images.


Breeding Pair ...

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Breeding pair, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


Feeding ...

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Feeding, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Feeding, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Calf bones, California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


"Mom and Kid" ...

Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Mom and Kid", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Mom and Kid", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Mom and Kid", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Mom and Kid", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.
Image, 2015, Clackamas County, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Mom and Kid", California Condor, Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, Clackamas County, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2015.


"Kid" was pulling leaves off the tree.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. [California Condor] ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile [vicinity of Ice House Lake] ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye






Clark, November 18, 1805 ...
A little cloudy this morning I Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] with 10 men and my man York to the Ocian by land. i. e. Serjt. Ordway & Pryor, Jos. & Ru. Fields, Go. Shannon, W. Brattin, J. Colter, P. Wiser, W. Labieche & P. Shabono one of our interpreters & York. [according to Moulton, Clark gave the other men's names in two inconsistent lists --- those named included Clark, Ordway, Charbonneau, Pryor, the Field brothers, Shannon, Colter, Weiser, Labiche, Bratton, and York.] I Set out at Day light and proceeded on a Sandy beech

N. 80 W. 1 Mile to a point of rocks about 40 feet high [Chinook Point, now the location of Fort Columbia], from the top of which the hill Side is open and assend with a Steep assent [Scarboro Hill] to the tops of the Mountains, a Deep nitch and two Small Streams above this point, then my course was

N. W. 7 Mile to the enterance of a creek [Chinook River] at a lodge or cabin of Chinnooks passing on a wide Sand bar the bay to my left [Baker Bay] and Several Small ponds Containing great numbers of water fowls to my right; with a narrow bottom of alder & Small balsam between the Ponds and the Mountn. ...     This Creek appears to be nothing more than the conveyance of Several Small dreans from the high hills and the ponds on each Side near its mouth. here we were Set across all in one Canoe by 2 Squars to each I gav a Small hook

S. 79 W. 5 Miles to the mouth of Chin nook river, [today's Wallacut River] passed a low bluff of a small hite at 2 miles below which is the remains of huts near which place is also the remains of a whale on the Sand, the countrey low open and Slashey, with elivated lands interspersed covered with pine & thick under groth This river [Wallacut River] is 40 yards wide at low tide- here we made a fire and dined on 4 brant and 48 Pliver which was killed by Labiech on the coast as we came on. Rubin Fields Killed a Buzzard of the large Kind near the meat of the whale we Saw: [California Condor] ...     after dineing we crossed the river in an old canoe which I found on the Sand near Som old houses & proceeded on-

S. 20 W. 4 Miles to a Small rock island in a deep nitch     passed a nitch at 2 miles in which there is a dreen from Some ponds back, the land low opposite this nitch a bluff of yellow Clay and Soft Stone from the river to the Comencement of this nitch     below the Country rises to high hills of about 80 or 90 feet above the water- at 3 miles passed a nitch- this rock Island is Small and at the South of a deep bend [near Illwaco, Washington] in which the nativs inform us the Ships anchor, and from whence they receive their goods in return for their peltries and Elk Skins &c. this appears to be a very good harber for large Ships. here I found Capt Lewis name on a tree. I also engraved my name & by land the day of the month and year, as also Several of the men.

S. 46 E. 2 Miles to the inner extremity of Cape Disapointment passing a nitch [location of Fort Canby] in which there is a Small rock island, a Small Stream falls into this nitch from a pond [today O'Neil Lake lies between Fort Canby and McKenzie Head] which is imediately on the Sea Coast passing through a low isthmus. this Cape is an ellivated <Situat> Circlier point [location Cape Disappointment Lighthouse] Covered with thick timber on the iner Side and open grassey exposur next to the Sea and rises with a Steep assent to the hight of about 150 or 160 feet above the leavel of the water <from the last mentioned nitch-> this cape [Cape Disappointment] as also the Shore both on the Bay & Sea coast is a dark brown rock [basalt]. I crossed the neck of Land low and of a mile wide to the main Ocian [today Waikiki Beach is located on the ocean side of this isthmus], at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance. I assended this hill [McKenzie Head] which is covered with high corse grass. decended to the N. of it and camped. I picked up a flounder on the beech this evening.-

from Cape Disapointment to a high point of a Mountn. which we shall call [the Nicholas Biddle version has Clarke's Point of View inserted here. "Clarke's Point of View" is today's Tillamook Head, a name received when Clark visited and climbed the formation in Janaury 1806.] beares S. 20 W. about <40> [WC?: 25] miles, point adams is verry low and is Situated within the direction between those two high points of land, the water appears verry Shole from off the mouth of the river for a great distance, and I cannot assertain the direction of the deepst Chanel, the Indians point nearest the opposit Side. the waves appear to brake with tremendious force in every direction quite across a large Sand bar lies within the mouth nearest to point Adams [Point Adams] which is nearly covered at high tide. I suped on brant this evening with a little pounded fish. Some rain in the after part of the night. men appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with estonishment the high waves dashing against the rocks & this emence ocian.





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2017, "All About Birds";    "OregonZoo.org" website, 2017;   

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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November 2017