Andean Condor

Vultur gryphus

Near Threatened

Range & Habitat
The Andean Condor is found along the Andes mountain chain from Venezuela to the Strait of Magellan. They live along the rocky cliffs and tree perches of the mountains and in non-forested open areas.

General Description
The Andean Condor has powerful talons and a hooked beak to rip and tear meat. Their head is bald, which allows blood to flow off and not attract parasites or bacteria. They are among the world's largest flying birds. The Andean Condor has a wing span of about 10 feet which allows them to soar on the updrafts at the top of the Andes Mountains. Males have a comb and a larger collar as opposed to females.

Condors make sounds much like air coming out of a compressor. Their eyesight is better than a human's. They congregate in flocks until breeding season, at which time flocks disperse. In order to synthesize vitamin D in their bodies, they spread their wings and sunbathe. The Condor's flexible neck allows it to preen all of its feathers, while its big feet allow it to run quickly. The Andean Condor is an endangered species, having been persecuted by farmers and pesticide poison for many years. They are now part of the SSP program, in hopes to re-populate the species. They are also helping the almost extinct California Condor by providing research information on habits and behaviors.

Reproduction & Growth
A crude nest is built on a rocky ledge. During November and December, one egg is laid, but a female will double clutch if the initial egg is lost or removed. The egg is a whitish yellow with brown spots. Condors have a very low reproductive rate, producing at most one chick every two years. The young stay with their parents for a long time before leaving the group. Condors reach sexual maturity at 7-11 years. For numbers to remain stable, a pair should survive until two of their offspring are able to reproduce a pair themselves. The Andean Condor can live up to 40 years. In captivity with access to medical care, regular food and no threat from predators, they may enjoy a life expectancy in excess of 70 years.

Diet: Carnivore
In the Wild: Carrion, dead, dying or sometimes newborn or sick animals. A large carcass will not be significantly consumed for several days. Their favorites are mice, squirrels and rabbits. They can live without any food source for at least a week. In the Zoo: Rats, chicken, lamb, rodents, chicks, meat eating bird diet.

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