Picture from the Cleveland Zoo

More information about The Andean Condor
Physical description: 


  • Height 52" inches with wing span exceeding 10 to 12 feet." 
  • Body length up to 100". 
  • Weight 20 - 25 lbs.  Males are much larger than females.
  • Overall color is shiny black with the wings having large white patches.
  • Has a white ring on it's wrinkled neck and a bare grayed head.
  • The bill is hooked and ivory in color. 
  • Both sexes are alike in appearance with the exception that the male has a bare caruncle on its head.
    General information: 

    Andean Condors live in groups of three or more consisting of an equal number of  males, and related females and their offspring.  In the wild, hunting is usually done by scavenging,  feeding in groups. Vultur gryphus is the only bird species in which social feeding  is routine. 

    Condors are very finicky eaters. They don't rush into their meals all at once. In the wild, Condors have been known to wait as long as five days before eating a meal, even when it`s set right in front of  them. In captivity, in order to preserve the Condors' nutritional health the birds are always fed by the same keeper. 

    Special anatomical, physiological 
    or behavioral adaptations:

    The condor's ability to fly is related to the arrangement of the hollow bone structure that supports its huge body.  Andean Condors, as well as all species of condors,  have specialized "carnassial beaks --  with high sharp ridges that act as paper cutters".  The condor also possesses a long neck for tunnelling into its prey. The extension of the neck with quite large masticating muscles allows them the ability to tear flesh from dead animals. Many Andean Condors have been accused of flying off with live infants in their huge claws. This cannot be true because the Condors' feet are not equipped for grabbing and holding onto any thing except maybe a fence rail perhaps. The feet of the Condor resemble that of a turkey; they are webbed and incapable of holding on to large animals.

    Comments about the Andean Condors at  the Fort Worth Zoo:

    The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is the largest terrestrial flying bird. In captivity, the birds have been known to live more than 50 years. With a lack of space for nesting the Condor has developed the ability to lay its eggs without a nest. When they lay their eggs the whole cycle may require years just to incubate the huge, single egg. After the chick hatches it does not learn to fly for six months, both parents assist the infant in acquiring condor know-how. 

    In protecting the Condor from extinction, Zoo keepers at the For Worth Zoo keep a close lookout for Condor eggs. The Condor has the ability to lay eggs almost at random and if the egg is removed the Condor will immediately lay another one. The Keeper will then remove the Condors' eggs and incubate them so that the Condor will lay more eggs.

    Personal Observations: 

    While observing the Condor at the Fort Worth Zoo, I noticed that the birds did not make any bird noises. They didn't squeak or squawk; in fact the only sound coming from the Condors' compound was the sound that their wings made as they flew from perch to perch. Andean Condors are very silent birds because they don`t utilize their vocal cords. Each Condor mades its own sound as its hugh wings pierce  through the air. So if by chance you are visiting the Andes Mountains of Columbia and you hear the wind blowing and the trees are not moving you are probably in the presence of an Andean Condor.

    Andean Condors:  Main Page
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