Andean Condors, or Vultur Gryphus, are some of the biggest birds that have the ability to fly. They weigh up to 33 pounds, stand at four feet tall, and their wingspan, which is longer than other raptors, stretches over ten feet.1&2 Because of their weight, these birds take advantage of thermals, or warm air currents, in their habitat to help them fly. They’ll soar from thermal to thermal, which helps them fly and not expend a lot of energy while they do it.3
These birds hang out along the Andes Mountains in the western part of South America.2 According to the IUCN, they are Near Threatened, with a decreasing population trend.1 Within countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, Andean Condors are endangered.2 A lot of this is because of human activity – shooting these birds, encroaching on their habitats (which reduces their range), taking them down for traditional medicines, or ranchers poisoning livestock carcasses.2&3
Andean Condors are slow to recover because they don’t produce many offspring. Females will lay one egg every other year, and both the male and female will care for their baby for a year.1&3 Andean Condors, just like all other vultures, are essential to a healthy environment because they eat carrion. They help keep the environment clean and reduce the spread of serious diseases, like anthrax.3
Read more about how vultures help our environment in our blog post here!