Andean Condors

Andean condors bring you facts, info and photos of uncontested kings of the sky. We all remember magical tunes of El Condor pasa, now is time to learn facts about condors and see their pictures.

Andean Condors: Facts
Yes, we all know the beautiful sound of El Condor Pasa, but if you carefully listen to the lyrics you will not find there anything about El Condor.

Well, the truth is that the “condor’s footprint” we feel so strongly in this song comes from the inspiration by mystic Andean tunes – a region where condors are sailing across the sky.

Condors belong to the family of vultures, however due to few significant differences compared to real vultures they gained the name New World Vultures.

Next to the wandering albatrosses, condors are the largest flying birds in the western hemisphere with the wingspan reaching up to 3 meters (10 ft).

There are two species of condors: Andean (slightly bigger inhabiting the mountains of the western South America) and Californian – inhabiting the Rocky Mountains on the western coast of the US.

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 3.20MB 3.14MB 2.27MB

 Even when on the ground condors do not loose their majestic look.

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 3.15MB 3.34MB 4.53MB

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 4.52MB 3.33MB 3.49MB

 Did you realize how beautiful is condor's plumage?

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 4.08MB 3.61MB 3.37MB

 Condors a very family oriented birds - they mate for life!

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 3.19MB 4.22MB 5.32MB

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

Free Andean Condors Pictures

full size: 2.51MB 2.03MB 4.00MB

 Andean condors in the habitat of Buenos Aires Zoo.

The major visible difference between the Old World Vultures (inhabiting Indian Peninsula) is that condors’ feet are not typical for birds of prey (raptors). They have rounded claws (instead of sharp ones) which are of little use not only in fight but even for tearing meat.

Their hooked beak is strong, but still more adapted to tear the soft tissue of a rotting meat than the healthy one of the living animal. They are more adapted for walking – which is not surprising given the fact the genetically condors are closer to storks than to vultures.

That is why they rarely prey on living animals, rather flying over large distances in a search for carcasses of dead mammals. Occasionally they may prey on hatchlings or eggs.

Due to their weight of up to 15 kg (33 lbs) they have difficulty during takeoff. Indeed we may all agree that flapping so large-spanning wings next to the ground is not an easy process. However once up in the sky they can glide seemingly effortlessly with a grace of a ballerina. They rarely flap the wings, mostly using thermals to soar for long hours over the mountains and valleys. Interesting enough – they bend upwards feathers at the end of the wing tips for better flight control (this idea was recently adopted in the designs of modern planes!).

The Andean condor is black with white patches on grayish wing feathers. Their gray heads and reddish necks are bare what is typical for scavenging birds. Featherless heads and necks help them to “dine” on carrions allowing reach deeply into carcasses without soiling feathers.

The adult male can be distinguished by a dark-reddish comb on the head. The colors of the plumage together with the large ruff of snow-white feathers surrounding the base of the neck made them look very majestic and dignified.

I’m specially underlining this fact because in a widely popular believe in western culture vultures are considered as ugly, dreadful birds deceitfully waiting for someone’s death. There is nothing more erroneous then this opinion, confirming only how strong can be our prejudices. As the matter of fact, condors are considered as national birds in many South-American countries. Indeed, they are living symbols of strength and grace rather than that of sneakiness. Needless to say that they play an important role in the eco-system providing the “cleaning service” (for free).”.

Californian condors are smaller than their Andean relatives and have reddish-orange (but still bare) heads.

Condors are social birds mating for life! They share incubation of the egg(s) (one or two) and after hatching together keep care for the fledgling for a long year till it is able to fly on its own. May be this “family-oriented” approach explains their long life expectancy reaching up to 50 years!

Both species of condors are classified as endangered. On top of losing their habitat, unlike other animals, condors are highly exposed to a toxic food. Keep in mind that condors (vultures in general) feed themselves on carcasses of dead animals, fish, seals (in general carrion) instead of preying on usually more healthy living ones. And these days it is really a dangerous “diet” for all scavengers as many animals are dying after being poisoned by chemicals, pesticides and litter they eat.

The Californian Condors are currently under the special recovery program to boost their numbers from critically endangered (currently slightly more than hundred species, mostly in breeding centers and few tens in the wild).

The Andean condors are in much better shape with estimated few thousands in the wild. They are considered as near threatened.

I hope that reading these facts and seeing pictures of condors presented here by Free Andean Condors Pictures helped you to change your perception of these magnificent creatures.

Just close your eyes, and listening to the tunes of “El condor pasa” try with your eyes of imagination visualize the scene of a soaring condor in high Andes.

Can you see it - up there high in the sky effortlessly circling the valleys - a perfect symbol of the nature’s ingenuity conquering the forces of gravity – a long waited dream of human beings.

Do you want to see pictures of the Old World Vultures or eagles? Then click: Eagles and Vultures Pictures

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If you want go back to zoo and see different animals then click:
Free Zoo Buenos Aires Pictures - or -
Loro Parque Zoo - Tenerife

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