A captive breeding program that once included every living California condor has passed a key milestone in helping North America's largest bird return to the wild.

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say that for the first time in decades, more condors hatched and fledged in the wild last year than adult wild condors died.

Fourteen young condors took flight compared with 12 that died. Officials say it's a small difference but a big step since the last 22 wild condors were captured in the 1980s to start the breeding program.

There are now 268 wild condors with 27 nests, mostly in California, but others have been seen in Arizona, Utah and Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

California condors weigh as much as 25 pounds and have wingspans up to 10 feet.