Picture of California Condor soaring on the wing
The Condor is the Spanish way of writing the Peruvian
Vultur gryphus of Linnaeus and the genus Vultur Gymnogyps
modern ornithology. This genus comprises two species. The first
is the the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), also or
previously known as the Californian Vulture. The other is the
Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) whose range extends from near
the mouth of the Rio Negro on the east coast of Patagonia, through the
Strait of Magellan and along the Cordilleras of the Andes to about lat.
Condors are among the largest of flying birds.
The population of the California Condor was once distributed
over the whole North American continent. However the Condor was a
bird which was much in demand among hunters, due to its majestic flight
and in the last few centuries was merciless hunted.
Today as at June
2006, only around 131 of these birds live in a small protected area of
California live, whilst a further 149 are kept in captivity. Several
breeding programs now exist in the attempt to secure the existence of the
California Condors. A chick in the San Diego zoo is fed by male nurses
with the assistance of a glove puppet.
The California Condor can have a wingspan of up
to 3 meters. Its length reaches to up to 125 centimeters and it weighs
around14 kilograms. It has a black plumage with white wings on the lower
surface, as well as a dark neck with pointed feathers.
The breeding season is in the first 5 months of
the year. The nest is usually established on a high rock in an offshore
area. The female condors frequently lay only a single white egg.
The nest is tended thereafter by both the male and the female until the
chich hatches after around 40 to 50 days. The parents take care of
the young condor for a considerable time. Although the chicks are
already exploring the area around the nest within 3 months, the total period
in the nest generally amounts to 6 months. After this period the young
condor begins with its first test flights, but is still cared for by the
parents. At the age of 12 months the young bird becomes independent, and
at 3 years he or she is considered as an adult condor. Due to the long
time that it takes to care and bring up the young birds, condors only nest
every 2 years.
The California condor starts to seach for food
in the early hours of the day. It feeds almost without exception on carrion.
After it has eaten, the condor begins a long and pronounced rest period,
which can last up to half of the day.