Condors of the Columbia

Return of the Thunderbird

Stretching 10 feet from wingtip to wingtip, they were known to some Native American tribes as "Thunderbirds." During Lewis and Clark's time, they soared above the Columbia River and congregated at whale carcasses on the Oregon Coast. But by the 1980s, the California condor had all but disappeared. Though native to Oregon, condors have not been documented in the state for more than a century. The Oregon Zoo hopes to change that.

Condors of the Columbia

Condors of the Columbia opened to the public on May 24, 2014. The new habitat is home to adult birds from the zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation condor recovery program that cannot be released in the wild. For the first time, Oregon Zoo visitors have the unique opportunity to see these colorful, intelligent and highly endangered birds and learn about the survival challenges they face.

Habitat features include:

  • an aviary more than 30 feet tall and 100 feet long in which condors will fly
  • a lush, native landscape with boulders, trees and log snags for condors to perch
  • a cascading water feature with deep pool for condor bathing
  • two covered visitor viewing areas, one elevated, where visitors can get rare up-close views of condors

Condors of the Columbia tells the story of condors' historic fall and current rise and the challenges these birds face today from lead and trash in their environment. It also guides visitors through the zoo's decade-long condor recovery effort in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildife Service, San Diego Wildlife Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, and many other partners.

Follow the Conservation Blog for the updates on California condors and all of the Oregon Zoo's species recovery efforts.