An Andean condor photographed at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo in Florida
An Andean condor photographed at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo in Florida
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Andean Condor

Common Name:
Andean condors
Scientific Name:
Vultur gryphus
Type:
Birds
Diet:
Carnivore
Size:
Body: 4 feet; wingspan: up to 10.5 feet
Weight:
Up to 33 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Near threatened
Current Population Trend:
Decreasing

Andean condors are massive birds, among the largest in the world that are able to fly. Because they are so heavy (up to 33 pounds), even their enormous 10-foot wingspan needs some help to keep them aloft. For that reason, these birds prefer to live in windy areas where they can glide on air currents with little effort. Andean condors are found in mountainous regions, as their name suggests, but also live near coasts replete with ocean breezes and even deserts that feature strong thermal air currents.

Characteristics

These condors are mostly black, but males have a distinctive white “collar” around their necks and some white markings on their wings as well. Like their relatives, the California condors, Andean condors have bald heads.

Scavenging and Diet

Condors are vultures, so they keep their sharp eyes peeled for the carrion that makes up most of their diet. They prefer to feast on large animals, wild or domestic, and in picking the carcasses, they perform an important function as a natural clean-up crew. Along the coasts, condors will feed on dead marine animals like seals or fish. These birds do not have sharp predator's claws, but they will raid birds' nests for eggs or even young hatchlings.

Breeding and Population

These long-lived birds have survived over 75 years in captivity, but they reproduce slowly. A mating pair produces only a single offspring every other year, and both parents must care for their young for a full year.

The Andean condor is considered threatened but is in far better shape than its California cousin. Reintroduction programs are working to grow populations of these South American birds.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Alex Tsarfin, National Geographic Your Shot

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet