The Andean Condor, and its other species, the Californian Condor are members of the New World family of vultures, although they are sometimes mistaken for the King Vulture.
The New World Vultures are a favorite of American people, especially the indigenous tribes of South America and south-west North America.
Condors are huge birds, about a meter long with three-meter wingspreads. The Andean Condor has the record for the widest wingspread and as the biggest flying bird in the world.
They weigh about 30 kgs, which would normally be a barrier for flying, and therefore they prefer windy areas like the mountains so that they can fly with the wind.
Their flight is much like a plane taking off from the runway. These birds need to run on a flat land before they take off into the air, flapping their wings frequently to gain altitude, which is often obstructed because of their weight.
These birds of prey usually feast of dead fish that are washed up ashore, but even eat seals, whales, and dolphins. When they make their rounds over land, they usually feed on the remains of deer, and livestock.
These hunting habits of the Andean condor are because by nature these birds are scavengers; they mainly feed off the remains of carcasses.
The Andean condors are not aggressive. They have evolved this way because their feathers are quite delicate and easily damaged. Therefore, when it comes to scavenging, these birds are masters at avoiding fights and allow the more dominant birds to have their share first.
This habit allows him to co-exist with other birds in the area, without causing problems, which, as seen in the case of most other territorial predators, becomes a threat to the young.
The Andean condor has an interesting characteristic that is common to all its New World cousins; although it grunts and wheezes, and makes suppressed coughing noises, these birds have no real voice.
They compensate for a lack of a voice box by excellent body language communication skills.
If you look at the Andean Condor (and all its cousins), you would notice that unlike other birds, this bird has a hairless head. This is an adaptation for hygiene, because these birds poke their heads into the carcasses and without feathers, their heads will not have food pieces sticking on them.
Therefore, the lack of feathers on the head means that the skin can be sterilized through dehydration and the ultraviolet rays of the sun at high altitudes.
They also have an amazing thermoregulation system, which allows their body to reduce its temperatures in the night to conserve energy.
With respect to their senses, they have excellent eyesight that allows them to spot food from great heights. They do not however have a great sense of smell that allows them to locate food, like the turkey vultures do. They have excellent hearing to make up for this though.
Its beak has adapted to allowing him to eat just about anything. The beak is long, sharp and very powerful. It can even pierce the skin of a horse!
Their strong beaks, which can even move small rocks and branches when building nests make up for its lack of sharp talons (claws) like other vultures and predatory birds have.
When they are angry or agitated, they become bigger because little sacs under their neck and throats fill with air. This gives them a more powerful and impressive appearance.