THE ONLY KNOWN condor egg of the season has perished, another victim of the domestic violence that is all too familiar in this country. The condors, teetering on the brink of extinction, sometimes positively seem to invite it. The egg was laid in perfect condition, but, as bird-watchers watched in dismay, two adult birds fell into a violent quarrel over which of them was to sit on it. In the course of the dispute, the egg was kicked out of the perch onto the rocks below.
This affair is a sad commentary on the society in which we live. Sen. Jeremiah Denton of Alabama is correct--traditional family values are in a bad way, and living on a cliff in California doesn't help. Where were the state's juvenile welfare authorities?
There is apparently a possibility that another egg may appear later this spring. The state of California has broad responsibilities to which it must rise. It would be prudent to send a Family Relations Court judge creeping discreetly up the cliff, at the head of a small committee of qualified ornithologists and social workers, to provide counseling and, if necessary, to put the egg under the protection of a court order.
The condors generally seem to have fallen into a dark and self-destructive state of mind. There's no point in prosecuting the bird that kicked the egg out of the nest. It is undoubtedly filled with guilt and remorse. The whole family needs therapy. The birds' best interests would probably be served by persuading them to leave the California beach scene for a more stable atmosphere--Iowa, for example. Failing that, they ought at least be required, for safety's sake, to build their nests at the bottom of the cliff rather than at the top.
But, some people will doubtless feel, if a species' bad temper and bad judgment bring it to extinction, that only serves it right. There's a certain flinty justice to that opinion. It deserves careful attention by those other species that sometimes behave much like the condors, but aspire to greater longevity.