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California Condor Profiles and LIfe Histories
Condor #251 "Crush"
Sex: Male Hatch Location & Date: Los Angeles Zoo, 5/10/2001 Release Date: December 12, 2002 Parents:  #21 and #40 Local Biological Siblings: #231 Breeding Status: DECEASED 7/10/16 Offspring: Biological chicks #603 and #663
"CRUSH" Condor 251, aka "Crush", died of lead poisoning near our release site on July 1o, 2016. While his death is very unfortunate we prefer to celebrate his incredible life and the great legacy he left behind. His contributions to the wild flock spanned 15 years and are difficult to quantify in words, but nonetheless, were instrumental to the ongoing recovery of Condors in central California.

The Early Years...
When Crush and four other pre-release condors arrived to our Big Sur release pen in the Summer of 2002, they were bright eyed and very curious. He quickly climbed to the top of the hierarchy among the pre-release group, a pattern that would continue in to his adult years. After release on December 12, 2002, Crush took his first (and clumsiest!) flight, dropping down a couple thousand feet in elevation deep into a redwood forest at the base of the canyon… a difficult start for any newly released condor. We've seen this happen with other release birds and they eventually work their way back to the release site over the course of a week or two, but this wasn't the case for Crush.

By the end of December, he was still down low in the canyon and we hadn't documented him feeding since his release, 19 days prior. This pattern continued in to early January and things were looking quite bleak for Crush, we were seriously worried for his welfare. But just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, we noticed a new pattern developing. Everyday around noon we noted that two adult condors (164 and 171) would be radio-signaled in the same exact location as 251 for about an hour. This pattern continued daily up until his long awaited return to the release site on 1/23/2003.

Thinking he would look very famished upon return, it was quite the opposite, he was in great physical health. This was our first indication that condors could be altruistic and feed a condor that wasn't their own offspring. Without Crush's shaky start we may have never known that altruism was such an important condor trait.

The Nesting Years...
Crush quickly climbed the condor hierarchy and when he reached breeding age in 2010 he was poised to nest, but he just needed to find a mate… easier said than done in the world of condors. But, in 2011, a window of opportunity presented itself to Crush. Condor female 222 aka Cosmo lost her male mate (who was injured and recovering in captivity) and Crush promptly swooped in to pair with her… and she accepted. He retained the nesting territory over the next 5 years and even took in a second female, Condor 306, from 2012-2015. The trio cooperatively nested in the same territory, alternating nest sites each year, which basically gave Crush no time to rest (what a super dedicated condor dad!). Crush will be remembered for fathering/fostering four nestlings in his lifetime, which remains a truly invaluable and lasting contribution to the recovery of his species. Thank you Crush, your legacy will be a lasting one.
More photos of Crush