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Updated: Feb 17, 2023

The Andean condor is one of the largest flightless birds in the world, but is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and poisoning.

The Andean Condor, also called Condor de los Cerros, Condor de los Andes, or simply Condor (Vultur gryphus), is one of the largest birds in the world, a national symbol of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, for which it plays a very important role in the mythology and folklore of the Andean regions. However, this emblematic bird is in danger of extinction worldwide.

This huge bird is one of the largest in the world that can fly. Given its great weight - up to 15 kilograms -, even the enormous span of its wings, which can measure up to 3 meters, this bird needs some help to keep it in the air. For this reason, this species prefers to live in areas with high wind currents and can glide over them without much effort.

Andean condors live in mountainous areas, as their name suggests, as well as near the coast, where sea breezes are abundant, and even in deserts with strong thermal air currents.

Curiosities about the Andean Condor

Characterized by its scarf of white feathers around its neck and on the ends of its wings, the Andean condor is also highly recognizable for the lack of feathers on its reddish head, like its relatives the California condors, and can change color depending on the weather. state bird emotion.

In addition to this curiosity, this species also has a size difference according to sex, but unlike most birds of prey, the male is larger than the female.

This scavenger bird reaches sexual maturity between 5 and 6 years of age and nests between 1,000 and 5,000 meters above sea level, normally fond of rock formations that are not very accessible.

As with the bearded vulture in Spain, its reproductive rate is very slow, so it is normal for it to lay an egg every two years. Not only is it an emblematic bird for its size and habitat, it is also one of the longest-lived birds in the world, living up to 75 years in captivity.

Condors are vultures; therefore, their keen eyes are always on the lookout for carrion, which makes up the bulk of their diet. They prefer to feed on large animals, wild or domestic, and by consuming their bodies they fulfill an important task as sweepers of nature.

This scavenger locates its prey, but they don't immediately descend to eat, preferring instead to circle over it or watch it from somewhere nearby until they finally get close. These animals can eat up to 5 kilograms of meat per day and can even go 5 weeks without food.

On the coast, the condors feed on dead sea creatures, such as seals or fish. These birds lack the sharp claws of other predators, but they can raid nests for eggs or even chicks.

Threats to its conservation

The Andean condor is an endangered species, but the situation is much better than that of its cousin, the California condor. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the Andean condor as a vulnerable species due to the decline in its populations due to habitat loss and poisoning caused by feeding on drunken animals or by the poisoned carrion itself that some hunters and ranchers have in the country. wild posting illegal

There are currently nearly several thousand South American condors in the wild, and reintroduction programs are working to increase their numbers. Today it is very rare to find it in Venezuela and Colombia, the places where the decline has been most drastic in recent years.

(Related: What Is Extinction? The Answer Is Complex)

Due to its slow reproduction rate, it is an extremely vulnerable species to human activity, especially as some farmers consider it a threat due to alleged attacks on livestock. Despite the educational programs run by conservation groups, their persecution remains a serious problem for the species. Reintroduction programs are releasing captive-bred condors to bolster the populations of Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia.

This system began to develop in 1989, the year the first captive-bred condors were released, in an effort to minimize human contact for them. The chicks are fed with pupae that resemble the parents to avoid being imprinted with humans and thus not endangering them once they have to develop in the wild. Finally, the condors are taken to aviaries, where they acclimate for three months before being released in an environment similar to that where they will live in the wild.

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