Cinda Mickols had more than your average flock of birds to contend with when a flock of endangered California condors descended on her home and began “hanging out ominously” her daughter tweeted recently.
Around 15 to 20 of the carrion birds perched on her roof and deck at her home in Tehachapi, California and behaved badly, knocking over her plant pots, poking holes in her screen doors, pecking on things and making a big mess!
“My tiny little mom was staring down a bunch of birds half her size from less than 10ft [3m] away trying to shoo them,” Cinda’s daughter Seana Quintero shared on Twitter. “They keep hanging out on her roof and railings messing with stuff and pooping everywhere.” She added the group of birds “absolutely trashed her deck.”
There are only around 160 condors remaining in California, so for such a large number to congregate in one spot is a rare and unusual sight.
“It sucks but also this is unheard of, there’s only 160 of these birds flying free in the state and a flock of them decided to start a war with my mom,” Seana said.
It’s the peculiarity and rarity of seeing so many at her mom’s home that motivated Seana to share the event on social media, where the news quickly went viral. She also humorously shared how her mom mom was coping with the large birds.
“She does think this is pretty amazing but also the worst. They don’t have to leave her property but leave the house alone….Trees are fine but not the house please!”
The next day the birds had thankfully moved to a nearby tree but they soon returned and began circling over her home. Cinda decided to check in with some condor groups “to alert them so they can observe the birds and maybe help keep them off her house.” But Seana was not too convinced anything would work. “To be honest how does one convince 20 large birds to do anything, lol.”
Her mother’s predicament came to the attention of the US Fish and Wildlife Service who explained that part of the reason her mother’s property was singled out by the birds is that she is located in a historical condor habitat.
“If this happens again, hazing to preclude them from causing damage and habituation is encouraged,” they tweeted. “This includes using methods that will not harm them such as water hoses, yelling, clapping, shouting or using other preventative measures such as scarecrow sprinklers,” the agency added helpfully.
Cinda gave the advice a try that very day and gave a pair of condors perched on her roof a “shower” with a hose. It seemed to work. “Now they’re back chilling with the rest of the flock on her tree. Watching. Waiting. Doing condor things,” Seana said.
Seana also began sharing some interesting facts about condors and provided pictures: “Also yesterday evening my mom found what we assume is a pellet from a condor (I suspect #52 since he really likes her roof). Like owls, condors will barf up any undigested bits of their food like bones and teeth.”
The more Seana and Cinda discovered about the birds, the more they learned why the birds might be hanging out at Cinda’s home.
No longer content with just waging war on mom’s deck, the condors have now decided her fence must be dismantled 🙃 pic.twitter.com/rKN4MQkISD
— Seana Lyn (@SeanaLyn) May 10, 2021
They learned from the US Fish and Wildlife Service that condors use updrafts to fly and conserve energy. Cinda’s home, which gets sunlight all day and winds from the east and west, makes it a great spot for such thermal updrafts. “So the condors likely realized ‘hey this place is great! We can stay here at night and then surf the wind to find food during the day and know we can always catch a wave home. Plus it has a sweet deck to party on’,” explained Seana.
They also learned that condors’ heads change in color from black to pink as they age putting the age of the majority of the unruly flock of birds in their teenage years. “96 here is 10 years old and one of the older birds in the flock. Meanwhile 77 is 2 years old.”
“So it’s essentially a flock of rowdy teenagers which frankly explains a lot,” she tweeted.
After a week or so the birds weren’t hanging around Cinda’s home as much and Cinda was introspective about it all, telling news outlets that “they’ll leave when they want to leave.”
Seana also said her mom was “enjoying witnessing this incredible event even if they can be destructive and annoying at times.”
It is encouraging to see the conservation programs to help protect the condor is showing signs of success, even if it comes at the expense of Cinda’s deck. “[It’s] still wild to me that in my lifetime there went from being about 25 condors left alive to now almost that many descending on my moms house at once,” Seana observed.
Seana also shared a GoFundMe link to help raise funds for her mom’s home repairs with excess funds going to help select condor charities.
Photos reprinted with permission on Reshareworthy.com from Seana Quintero.