|Friends of the California Condors|
I had the privilege of watching a screening of "The Condor's Shadow" at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center hosted by Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free. I found it a moving, nostalgic, informative and inspiring film. The footage of the condors' in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring and the dedication of the humans entrusted with their care brings hope for a better tomorrow.
The Condor's Shadow is a bittersweet story told beautifully and authentically. It captures the plight of the California Condor's survival and the work of diverse groups of people coming together to ensure its success. Below is the trailer from the film. Please visit the links provided to the film's website for more information about the film and for screening opportunities.
I had the opportunity to meet Joseph Brandt, one of the featured condor biologists in "The Condor's Shadow", at the screening. Spending over a decade in the field and interacting intimately with the magnificent California Condor, he brought firsthand knowledge of the birds and their struggles. While he clearly conveyed the challenges that face this bird he also brought stories of hope for a brighter future. People like Joseph Brandt are the unsung heroes of our planet. They quietly and consistently endanger life and limb to protect the wild for the rest of us and for future generations. Without the vision, commitment and compassion of those lovers and protectors of nature our own future as a species is in jeopardy. A heart felt thank you to Joseph for taking time away from the field to meet with us and to inspire us out of our doldrums.
He was sporting this beautiful shirt designed by a group of grade school students, reminding us that we each, regardless of age or ability, have talents to contribute to the conservation effort. Whether we are painters, poets, photographers, musicians, biologists, hunters, geneticist or third graders, we all have unique and needed gifts to share.
In his TEDx Talk, "How we brought the condor back from the brink", Michael Mace shares the amazing story of the California Condor, the challenges it still faces and how far the population has come from the beginning of the California Condor Recovery Project in the 1980's to the present.
Another potentially lethal challenge is lead poisoning. Studies have shown that condors ingest lead by eating the remains of animals that have been hunted with lead bullets. While in our modern society, responsible hunters provide an important food source for the California Condor and help ensure its survival, hunters that use lead ammunition are directly poisoning the condors. At least half of the wild condor population must be treated for lead poisoning on a regular basis. If a bird with high levels goes untreated for too long it is fatal, as we see happens in the film A Flight Plan for the California Condor. If you are a hunter and are interested in learning more about how you can help save the condor by changing your ammunition please visit Hunting with Non-lead Ammunition's website.
Education and knowledge are key if we are to ensure the California Condors' survival for future generations. Teacher and educators can play an important part in educating our future generations about condors with Condor Kids, a curriculum designed to help students fall in love with the California Condor.
About The Program:
Condor Kids has received the 2016 Superintendents Award in Excellence in Education.
The curriculum is designed with active learning in mind. All 27 lessons are teacher friendly and standards aligned – correlated to NGSS & CC standards & organized with the EQuIP rubric. This curriculum is part of a much broader conservation partnership between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Santa Barbara Zoo. Designed with Fillmore Unified School District students in mind, our project includes the development of this curriculum, nest monitoring strategies (and live streaming cameras), as well as student field trips to Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, and the Santa Barbara Zoo. This link, Condor Kids, will take you to their website.