San Diego County bird lovers warmly welcomed the long-absent California condor yesterday, saying the Boeing 747 of birds is something every enthusiast wants to see.

They were reacting to the announcement that a female condor took a spin around San Diego County’s mountains this week after flying up from Mexico. As of Wednesday, the 3-year-old condor was winging around Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, according to satellite tracking by the San Diego Zoo.

The critically endangered birds are being reintroduced into the wild in Mexico and Central California. Before this, the last documented sighting of a condor over San Diego County was in 1910, zoo officials have said.

“It’s just a thrill, the thought of having condors returning to San Diego County, and I think most birders feel the same way,” said Sue Smith, a past president of San Diego Field Ornithology.

Bird lover Philip Pryde remembers feeling a sense of urgency about condors in the late 1980s.

That’s when wildlife officials announced plans to remove the nearly extinct condor from the wild and place it in breeding programs such as the one at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, near Escondido.

Pryde hopped into his car and headed north to Los Padres National Forest, where condors were known to fly.

“I was determined I was going to camp there until I saw them,” said Pryde, a past president of the San Diego Audubon Society. “Fortunately, I saw one within 12 hours.”

There’s just something about the California condor, bird lovers say: not a pretty face, but an awesome, 9-foot wingspan that makes it North America’s largest bird.

“Birders want to see every species they possibly can, but the condor obviously has a mystique beyond practically anything else,” said Philip Unitt, the San Diego Natural History Museum’s curator of birds and mammals. “It is its rarity, compounded with its size and struggle with survival.”

Unitt also made the pilgrimage to Los Padres in the late 1980s, but he had no luck with a sighting.

The California condor population dipped to just above 20, its lowest point, in the mid-1980s. In 1992, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-led effort began reintroducing the birds into the wild in Santa Barbara County.

Since 2002, zoologists have released 11 condors in Baja California’s Sierra San Pedro de Martir National Park, about 125 miles south of the border.

Condor enthusiasts hope the Mexico and Central California groups will eventually merge, making San Diego County’s mountains a part of their regular flight path.

Pryde said that if condors started to breed here, “that would be nirvana.”