The California Condor

More Condor stuff at The Wonder Of Birds:

Introduction to Condors and the California Condor

The Andean Condor

History of the Condor

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Picture of California Condor
Picture of California Condor soaring on the wing

The Condor is the Spanish way of writing the Peruvian Cuntur, the Vultur gryphus of Linnaeus and the genus Vultur Gymnogyps of 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. 8° N.

Condors are among the largest of flying birds.

California Condor

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.  

Next...The Andean Condor


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