- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) - A California condor “missing and feared dead” from near Grand Canyon National Park has been found by a seasonal park ranger 200 miles from home near Cortez, the Cortez Journal reported (http://tinyurl.com/qd2zxul).

Franz Carver, who drives around looking for birds on his days off, spotted the California condor on April 16 and took pictures, not realizing it was the missing bird.

“I saw this bird and thought it was a turkey vulture, but thought that it was too big,” Carver said.

The California condor is one of the largest North American land birds, with a wing-span of up to 10 feet. They were reintroduced in northern Arizona and southern Utah after being bred in captivity. There are an estimated 425 of them left.

It wasn’t until Carver downloaded the photographs that he saw a tag that read “N8” on the bird’s wing.

Carver, who lives near Reno, Nevada, when he isn’t working at the Mesa Verde National Park Visitors Center in southwestern Colorado, quickly did some research and found a list of birds on the Grand Canyon National Park’s website.

It turns out that N8, also known as bird 680, is a 2-year-old male. The park listed him as “missing and feared dead” in February, the Cortez Journal reported.

Carver notified Janice Stroud-Settles, the park’s wildlife biologist, who was surprised the bird had wandered that far.

“It was pretty exciting to hear he made it over to Colorado,” Stroud-Settles said. “We’ve heard reports of our birds in Colorado before, but we have never had photographic proof.”

There are currently 71 birds in the park, Stroud-Settles said.

N8 was released in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument near the Grand Canyon last June. He was raised in the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Stroud-Settles said the bird has a GPS transmitter, but he apparently went out of contact range.

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Information from: Cortez Journal, http://www.cortezjournal.com/

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