Andean Condor

The Andean Condor is one of the largest of all flying birds in the world. They can be seen in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.

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andean condor

In Ecuador it lives mostly in high remote mountains, near timberline and above.

The impressive size and grace of the Condor bird has instilled awe and respect in millions of observers over the centuries.

This fascinating black and white giant bird has a wingspan of 108-122 inches which enables it to soar effortlessly over the majestic Andean mountains.

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It is considered to be one of the largest flying birds in the world. Its majestic proportions and aerial elegance gave it its nickname King of the Andes.

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) was venerated by pre-Colombian cultures throughout the Americas.

But also later newcomers to the continent were awed by it and it was named the national bird of Ecuador, being shown in the national flag's emblem.

The admiration continues until today and anyone seeing it for the first time is truly impressed by this enormous bird.

An estimated 80 condors are left in all of Ecuador. Condors were once at risk because people believed the myth that these birds carried off children and livestock.

The truth is, because of their feet condors can only feed on carrion and small prey.

The Condor of the Andes Mountains has black plumage with white wing patches and a white neck ruff. The gray colored head and neck are bare; the male species has a comb of wattles.

Andean Condors are part of the vulture family. Originally they could be seen in the skies of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina right along the South American Andes mountain range.

Sadly, hunting led to a reduction in numbers and Condors teetered on the brink of extinction. In 1973 the Andean Condor bird species was marked on the Endangered Species list.

For many years Ecuador people have seen the powerful, huge Andean Condor as a symbol of health and strength.

Fortunately, though, various organizations have been involved in the conservation of this remarkable bird species, resulting in improved numbers of Condors in certain locations.

As one of the world's largest flying bird, the Andean Condor weights between 9 and 12 kg as an adult.

Condors in the wild can live to the age of 50 years, while captive birds have been known to live to about 75 years.

Condors mate for life, and their nests are carefully constructed on cliff ledges, with eggs are often being laid on bare rock.

Andean Condors are slow breeders and mating typically takes place every second year in July depending on food availability.

The courtship display involves unusual hissing and clucking noises accompanied by the male strutting with his wings out.

Incubation of the single egg lasts 54 to 58 days. Both of Condors (Male and female) will care for the young one until its second year.

In Ecuador the Condors are found locally only in the high Andean mountain regions where they look for dead animals to feed on.

The condor soars in flight and can reach altitudes of over 6,000m.

Male Condors are bigger than the female and have a fleshy comb on its forehead and shows pale pinkish skin and dewlap around its face. The female Condor has a light black face without a comb or dewlap.

They possess keen vision and rely on that for locating carcasses in the open moorland areas. They may also check on other vulture species circling above or already feasting on dead animals.

The Andean Condor feed almost entirely on carrion but in rare cases when hungry, they may attack sick or newborn animals.

The largest concentrations of Condors left in Ecuador can be seen in the Antisana Ecological Reserve

Conservation efforts in Ecuador are now underway to salvage one of the last populations of the world's largest flying bird. What began as a minor movement in local communities is now supported by national non-governmental organizations with international technical and financial assistance.

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Ecuador's fascinating geography and unique landscapes, allows easy access for birdwatching in the mountains and cloud forests surrounding the volcanoes in the high Andes, home to many endemic and stunning birds.

Ecuador houses some 1600 species of birds over half of the species in all of South America. This country is home to the greatest bird diversity, like no other destination in the world.

The majestic condor has always played an important role in the people of Ecuador and South America as well.

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