Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Magnificent Andean Condor

The Andean condor, one of the largest birds in the world and is the official symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. On wings that span up to 10 feet, the birds range throughout the Andes Mountains, Patagonia, and the coastal regions of western South America, in habitats including high peaks, lowland deserts, and grassy plains. They roost on high rock ledges, where updrafts are strong enough to lift their heavy bodies.

Andean condors are scavengers that are well-equipped for the job, with hooked beaks to aid in tearing flesh from large carcasses, a high resistance to bacterial infections, and bald heads that promote hygiene. They may travel up to 150 miles a day in search of carrion, which they locate primarily by sight. Once condors reach high altitudes, they ride on thermal currents and seldom flap their wings.

The birds are a source of national pride across South America and play a prominent role in folklore and cultural mythology. They have been represented in Andean art since 2500 BC. The Incas believed the condor brought the sun into the sky every morning and was a messenger to the gods.


Andean condors are both revered and feared, and, despite their symbolic role in South American cultures, are often treated as human competitors. As a result of habitat loss, mortality resulting from preying on poisoned carcasses, collision with power lines, and hunting by people who believe the birds attack livestock, they are declining in numbers, especially in the northern part of their range. In Patagonia, their area of distribution has decreased dramatically in the last hundred years. The IUCN lists Andean condors as near threatened.

SOURCE:  http://www.wcs.org/saving-wildlife/birds/andean-condor.aspx

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