College of Science and Mathematics
Biological Sciences Department
BS in Biological Sciences
Francis X. Villablanca
California condors consume non-food items, including anthropogenic waste, and provision it to their young. Consuming “microtrash” can cause mortality, especially in nestlings. There are several hypotheses explaining why condors might consume microtrash. These hypotheses assume condors exhibit a preference for the type of material. Therefore, we test the assumption that when California condors take microtrash, they display material selectivity. We did this by sampling microtrash from roadside pullouts in the Los Padres National Forest. Those samples were compared to condor necropsy and nest microtrash data, categorized by material type: glass, plastic, metal, and other. We find that in our analysis condors exhibit a preference for plastics and an avoidance of “other” materials (primarily ceramic).