Andean CondorScientific Name– Vultur gryphus

Conservation Status– Near Threatened

Appearance

The Andean condor has a body which is covered all over in black feathers. Around the base of the neck is a collar of white feathers. On their wings are some white patches which are more prominent in males.

The head and neck are mostly bald. On the males head is a comb. In males the skin on their neck forms in folds. This forms a wattle which can be used to convey emotion.

They have a hooked beak specially adapted to tearing at meat. Their claws are powerful but not very well suited to grabbing prey.

The wingspan of an Andean condor is up to 320cm. The females may weigh anywhere from 8-11kg. Males generally weigh in the region of 11-15kg.

Lifespan                                                                                  

Andean condors live on average 50 years in the wild.

In captivity they regularly reach 70 years of age.

Diet

Andean Condors are carnivores. Specifically they feed on carrion which is the remains of dead animals.

It is not unusual for a condor to search an area of about 200km a day to find their food. They eat on carrion from large and small mammals in their territory.

They have also been known to raid the nests of other birds. They take the eggs of these birds and eat them.

Habitat

The Andean condor comes from South America. They are found in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina. They live up in the mountains and down in the open grasslands. They also inhabit coastal areas.

Non-forested areas are appreciated by the condor as this allows them to easily see carrion.

Reproduction

Due to their long life span and lack of predators the Andean condor has a slow breeding cycle. They mate for life. Sexual maturity is achieved at 5 to 6 years of age.

As the male courts the female he begins by inflating his check patch which turns yellow. He stretches his neck out to the female and shows it to the female.

They find a cliff on which to breed. They prefer to make this at a height above 3,000ft. They find an inaccessible area where they assemble some sticks to deposit their eggs in. These eggs are a bluish-white.

They will only breed every 2 years. The breeding season is between February and March. Both parents will incubate the egg a process which lasts for 54-58 days. Some predators will take away the eggs. In the event this happens the birds will lay another egg.

Behaviour

Andean condors do not generally flap their wings when they are in the air. Instead they rely on thermal currents which keep them in the air.

Quick facts

The Andean condor is used on the coat of arms of many countries in their range.

Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia use the Andean condor as their national bird.

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