South America Living

Andean Condors – Facts, Photos & Information

Adult Male Andean Condor

Considered the ‘largest flying bird in the world’ an adult Andean Condor’s wingspan can reach up to 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) and weigh up to 15 kg (33 pounds). It is the largest raptor in the world.

Due to the weight and breadth of its wings it prefers windy areas where it can soar effortlessly, such as the warm uplifting air currents found in the Colca Canyon, Peru. When in flight they can reach heights of 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) or almost 3.4 miles upwards!   Travel Guide to Cabanaconde, Peru

The birds are black with white neck ruffles and featherless (bald) heads. The males have a ‘comb’ ontop of their heads and yellow eyes whereas females have no comb and red eyes. Like all vultures they scavenge for their food and eat primarily dead carcasses.

Located in the Andean Mountain range of South America their numbers are greatest in Argentina and Southern Chile. In northern areas of its habitat – Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador – the birds are increasingly rare with the Andean Condor now listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Andean Condor Spotted Mid-afternoon at Cruz del Condor, Peru

For more background information on these magnificent creatures and their fight for survival read: Brief History of the Andean Condor & Its Near Extinction.

Facts about the Andean Condor

  • Scientific Name: Vultur Gryphus
  • Scientific Family: Cathartidae
  • Life Expectancy: Approximately 50 years, up to 60 years in the wild (up to 70 years in a zoo)
  • Mating Habits: Every other year
  • When Breed in South America: July
  • Food & Diet: Carrion (dead animal carcasses), eggs,
  • Nesting Habits: Ledges of steep cliffs
  • Number of Eggs: One every two years
  • Incubation Tme: 54-58 days
  • Parental Behaviour: Males and females care for the young
  • Adult Weight: 20-33 pounds
  • Adult Height: 1.21 meters (4 feet)
  • Age of Maturity: 5-8 years

Baby condors are cared for by both the mother and father and leave the parents sometime in the second year of life. Juveniles take 6-8 years to reach adulthood. The Andean Condor lives around 50 years, outpaced 10 years by its New World vulture cousin – the California Condor – which has a life expectancy of 60 years.

Andean Condors are not considered nusiance birds and not a threat to other species. Since they reproduce only one young every other year they are severly affected by manmade threats such as: the killing of birds due to the misperception they hunt and kill wildlife; pesticides found in the food chain; lack of food supply (competition for dead carcasses that are used to make dogfood); habitat destruction; their capture for use in Indian rituals and other unknown reasons.

Photograph of Andean Condor Soaring at Cruz del Condor by Blake McHugh, all rights reserved.

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