Pushed to the brink of extinction with only 22 wild birds in existence by the 1980s, the California condors have returned to a slice of Northern California habitat for the first time in 130 years. This week, four condors flew the coop after being born and raised in a captive-breeding program. Yurok Wildlife Department Director Tiana Williams-Claussen narrated the live streamed event near the birds’ pen. “I am just overjoyed on this day,” Williams-Claussen whispered to the hundreds of viewers. These New World vultures are social birds who pick up their life skills from elders. The four freed birds were raised under an older bird who acted as a mentor. The Yurok tribe views the bird’s reintroduction as part of its “obligation to bring balance to the world.” Today, about 300 condors fly in the California wild.

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