The California Condor has been selected as Audubon California's Bird of the Year for 2011. The endangered species won the title after receiving nearly 35% of the almost 10,000 votes cast in the annual election. The condor beat out the Black Oystercatcher, Western Snowy Plover, Sandhill Crane, and three other species.
The California Condor is a critically endangered species that was down to just 22 wild birds in the late 1980's. These birds were captured and bred as part of a captive breeding program that continues to see limited but steady success. Today there are over 180 California Condors living in the wild. One totally unnecessary threat still facing California Condors is lead poisoning. If hunters would universally adopt lead-free ammunition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the California Condor recovery program "would [be] wildly successful." Unfortunately, lead-riddled carcasses limit the species' rebound. The California Condor's reign at Audubon California Bird of the Year 2011 highlights the plight of these special birds.