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Animal Themes
Endangered Animals Theme Unit
Birds
California Condors



California Condors
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.78

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    determined, unopposed, pinkish-orange, pouch-like, yellowish-red, status, conservation, directly, covering, thermal, bypass, spite, altitude, naturally, despite, underside
     content words:    North American, Once California, North America, Wildlife Service, California Condor Recovery Program, Since California


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California Condors   

1     The California condor is not the national bird of the U.S.A. Its cousin, the bald eagle, holds that title. However, the condor holds one record to which neither the bald eagle nor any other North American bird can lay claim. That record is its size. California condors have bodies that measure up to 4.6 feet in body length. They have a wingspan of 9.5 feet! They weigh up to 25 pounds. The California condor is North America's largest flying bird!
 
2     Not especially attractive birds, California condors seem to have a strange sense of style. It even gets worse as they grow. When they hatch from their eggs, they have off-white down feathers on their pinkish-orange skin. Then, they become dark-colored. They enter adulthood at about the age of 5. After that, they have no feathers covering their yellowish-red heads. They have black ruffs (rings of feathers) around their necks, and their bodies are covered in black feathers with large patches of white feathers on the underside.
 
3     California condors are superb flyers. They soar on warm thermal updrafts for hours. They reach a top speed of 55 miles per hour and an altitude of 15,000 feet. From that height, they use their acute vision to scan the ground below for food. California condors are vultures. They lack powerful feet and sharp claws (talons) to catch live prey. Hence, when they glide gracefully across the sky, they are mainly searching for animal corpses. They prefer those of large mammals like cattle and deer. Once California condors spot a potential meal, they swoop down to enjoy the feast. They store extra food in their crops (pouch-like enlargements below their throats). Then they bring it back to feed their young, or they can then go without searching for food for the next few days.

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Animal Themes
             Animal Themes


Endangered Animals Theme Unit
             Endangered Animals Theme Unit


Birds
             Birds



Animals
    Amphibians  
 
    Birds  
 
    Deserts  
 
    Fish  
 
    Freshwater  
 
    Grasslands  
 
    Insects  
 
 
    Invertebrates  
 
    Mammals  
 
    Oceans  
 
    Polar Regions  
 
    Rain Forest  
 
    Reptiles  
 


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