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Bird on the wing [UPDATED]

December 17, 2008 |  5:55 pm

Getprev Condor

And now for the good news.

With the emergence of seven California condor chicks from their nests this year, the wild population of condors now outnumbers the number in captivity for the first time since the endangered birds were reintroduced in 1992.

The seven young birds who fledged bring California's wild condor population to more than 80. There are about 167 condors flying free and some 160 in captive breeding programs.

Including groups in recovery programs in Arizona and Mexico, the total number of California condors is now about 320.

Good news for a big, ugly bird that numbered only 22 in 1982.

Updated, Thursday at 11:50 a.m.: Turns out our photo actually shows the equally lovely Andean condor, not our state bird. Thanks to the careful readers who spotted the error. We'll dig up a more appropriate photo soon.

Updated, Thursday at 12:10 p.m. Behold, on the right, the California condor.

-- Julie Cart

Photo: Andean condor. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Photo: California condor. Credit: David Clendenen / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service