Andean Condor
Vultur gryphus

CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Falconiformes
FAMILY: Cathartidae (New World vultures)

SIZE:
The largest bird of prey in the world. Wingspan of 10-12 feet when mature; male larger than female

RANGE:
Along the Cordillera, from western Venezuela southwards to Tierra del Fuego (western part of South America). Most commonly encountered on the high mountainous plateau of Peru and Chile

HABITAT:
Andes Mountains, rocky ledges at altitudes up to 19,000 feet

DIET:
Wild - Carrion mainly, but may kill animals occasionally
Zoo - Bird of prey diet, mice

DESCRIPTION:
General color -- black; upper parts of wing coverts, primary and secondary remiges ashy white; collar white, broken at front; head and naked area of neck chestnut; large grayish brown caruncle on top of head; bill is ivory-white; feet are blackish.

Male and female look alike except: female -- red eye and lack wattle; male -- yellow eye and has wattle above beak.

FACTS:

  • Can live to be around 60 years. Most recorded ages of living captive animals (presently) are around 35 years of age.
  • Can be seen during the day in flight, but roost high in mountains at night. May bee seen on its own, in pairs, or in flocks of 50 - 60 birds
  • As characteristic with carrion consumers, the bird is a comparatively slow flier, intent on conserving energy, and makes full use of rising thermal currents in order to soar to considerable heights.
  • When it has reached desired altitude it will glide smoothly in broad circles, without beating its wings. Can soar for hours. Feet and talons weaker than birds of prey who must catch and kill their prey.
  • Sharply hooked, down curved beak for ripping and tearing flesh.

YOUNG:
Will breed in exposed sites in wild. Female normally lays her single white egg either in September or October; pairs of condors living in the wild usually reproduce every two years; condors in zoos are likely to breed yearly.

STATUS:
CITES App. I

REFERENCE:
"Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", Vol. 7 Birds I, Dr. Bernhard Grzimek