Fun Andean Condor Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Andean Condor Facts For Kids

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Andean condors are one of the largest living birds, and they have a massive wingspan. They belong to the new-world vultures of the Cathartidae family, like their northern relatives the California condors.

Their ideal habitat ranges from the northern to the southern tip of South America, in the Andes mountain ranges along the Pacific coast. They are bald and their body is generally covered with black feathers with some white feathers on their wings. Their good sense of smell helps them to locate dead animals from a great distance. This species of bird roosts on the bare rocks of cliffs or in caves. They live in high elevations because the thermal air currents help them to soar high, they like to soar high so they can scan the ground looking for dead animal carcasses.

The impressive size of this bird means that it is often associated with strength and power. This bird is mentioned in mythical stories, folklore, and symbolic illustration references in cultural heritage throughout South America. The main threats to this species are human interference, poaching, killing for traditional rituals, pesticide poisoning, and lead poisoning due to eating bullets stuck in carrions. To restore their depleting numbers in the wild, captive breeding programs in zoos have been initiated.

If you liked reading these facts please read our articles on bird of paradise and barn owl.

Fun Andean Condor Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1 egg

How much do they weigh?

17-33 lb (8-15 kg)

How long are they?

126 in (3.2 m)

How tall are they?

48 in (1.2 m)

What do they look like?

Black and white

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them?

Andes Mountain


South America









Andean Condor Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Andean condor?

Andean condors are birds of prey. Scientifically known as Vultur gryphus, they are the world’s largest flying bird.

What class of animal does an Andean condor belong to?

Andean condors are birds. They are scavengers like all vultures.

How many Andean condors are there in the world?

Around 6,700 Andean condors are estimated to be living in the wild. Out of these, Argentina is home to approximately 2,500 of these new world vultures.

Sixty-eight Andean condors have been successfully raised in various zoos across America and Colombia since 1989. Most of them have been reintroduced back into their natural habitat.

Where does an Andean condor live?

Andean condors mostly inhabit the mountainous areas of the Andes mountain ranges in South America. But, they are also found in the Atacama desert. These new world vultures live in a stretch of land ranging from Colombia, Venezuela, to Tierra del Fuego which is located in southernmost South America.

What is an Andean condor's habitat?

High mountain peaks are where most Andean condors live. These massive birds prefer to live in high, rocky mountain ranges.

Andean condors usually choose to live in wide-open areas that allow them to spot food or carrion easily. This includes non-forested mountain ranges, open grasslands, deserts, and coastal areas.

Several South American countries are home to Andean condors. They are found in Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru.

Who do Andean condors live with?

Andean condors are social and may assemble and roost in smaller groups while resting, cleaning themselves, or catching the sun. But, these birds are monogamous and find individual nesting rounds during the mating season.

How long does an Andean condor live?

The average lifespan of Andean condors in the wild is 50 years. In captivity, Andean condors are known to live as long as 75 to 80 years in zoos.

How do they reproduce?

Compared to other birds, Andean condors are a species that live long lives. They reach their sexual maturity at around six years and their breeding cycle is slow.

Being monogamous, Andean condors mate with their partners for life. The typical breeding season ranges between February and June depending on their geographical location and food availability.

Each pair does not reproduce every year but usually on alternate years. A female Andean condor lays only one egg per nesting and in case a predator manages to eat the egg, she lays another one.

The courting ritual involves the male condor inflating the yellow patch on his cheek to try and attract the female. The male also spreads his wings to show off the wingspan and inflates his neck. The male makes some typical movements and waddles in the direction of the female who reciprocates similarly. They nibble and lick each other's beaks and make hissing and moaning sounds. Usually, the male plays the dominant role but the behavior differs from pair to pair.

Unlike other birds, Andean condors do not build a nest before laying an egg. The female lays the egg on a bare rocky cliff or in a small cave at an elevated level. They always find areas that are extremely difficult for predators to reach and may gather some sticks to place on top of their bluish-white egg. The parents then take turns incubating the egg for 54 to 58 days.

The chick is completely dependent on the parents until they are seven months old. The parents take turns caring for the young fledgling. Once the young chick can fly, it follows the parents in search of food until they are two years old.

What is their conservation status?

Andean condors are listed on The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) as Near Threatened. The population of these birds faced a significant decline as they were killed intentionally, poisoned by eating contaminated carcasses, and shot or poached.

Extensive community education and awareness programs, captive breeding in zoos, and habitat restorations have been initiated to restore the Andean condor population through the areas that are inhabited by these large birds.

Andean Condor Fun Facts

What do Andean condors look like?

Among the five genera of the new world vultures, Andean condors show the exclusive characteristic of sexual dimorphism. That means male Andean condors and female Andean condors have visible distinguishable physical characteristics. This is the only bird in the family Cathartidae where you can recognize a male and a female just by looking at them.

Male Andean condors are much bigger than females. A red caruncle, fleshy crest, or comb exclusively found on the crown of the male's head. There is a wattle or folded skin on the neck of the male which can be used for conveying emotions during the mating season. Males also have a distinct, fluffy white-feathered collar around their neck and yellow eyes.

Female Andean condors are smaller in size compared to males, which is not a regular feature among other birds of prey. They have red eyes and no ornate white collar around their neck.

The body of both male and female Andean condors are covered with velvety black feathers, with some white feathery patches on their wings. The white feathers are more visible in the male birds. These white flight feathers stick out like fingers when the birds soar high. Their heads and necks are fleshy and bald. This part of their body is mostly grayish-black to a deep reddish-brown.

These birds of prey have hooked beak that helps them to tear meat easily. The beak is ivory-colored with a dark base.

Their powerful, pointy claws help these birds to grab their prey by swooping down on them from the sky. However, compared to other birds of prey, Andean condors have less powerful feet. Their talons are blunt and short compared to similar birds. This helps them to walk on the ground while scavenging for carrion. Their middle toe is longer compared to their other toes. Their legs and feet are covered with dark gray circular scales.

Being the largest flying bird, the wingspan of an Andean condor stretches up to 126 in (320 cm). Like their cousin, California condors, Andean condors also have no feathers on their heads and are bald. Adult females weigh between 17-24 lb (7-10 kg) and males usually weigh between 24-33 lb (10-14 kg).

Both males and females have peculiar characteristics as a mating adaptation. They can change the color of the featherless skin on their neck and face. This changes according to their mood and can be used for communication during mating season.

Juvenile Andean condors have olive-gray and brown feathers. Young fledglings have fluffy, gray, and soft feathers on their body. As they grow, the juveniles develop darker skin.

Close-up of the face of an Andean condor.

How cute are they?

Andean condors are largely wild, scavenging birds. They cannot be termed as cute, but some may think they are quite adorable.

How do they communicate?

Like all other birds, Andean condors can understand and adapt to their environments through the sense of sight, sound, touch, and chemical stimulus.

Andean condors cannot make complicated bird sounds or shrill sounds as they lack a syrinx. They make clicking and hissing sounds to communicate.

These birds also communicate with their peculiar capability of changing the colors on their neck. This is a visual cue to signal their mood to the other birds. This signaling mechanism is mostly used during the mating season. Male condors flush a bright yellow shade on their face and neck to visually attract females during the courtship display.

For locating food, Andean condors usually depend on their powerful sight. They can locate carrion from high above the ground. They also take cues from the scent of other vultures and scavengers to detect the location of their food.

How big is an Andean condor?

Andean condors are massive birds that weigh around 30 lb (13.6 kg) or more. That is approximately 7500 times heavier than a bee hummingbird which weighs around 0.004 lb (0.002 kg) and is the smallest bird.

The length of an Andean condor is around 51 in (4.3 ft) which is about 23 times larger than a bee hummingbird which has an average length of 2 in (5 cm).

How fast can an Andean condor fly?

Andean condors glide at an average speed of 125 mph (201 kph).

How much does an Andean condor weigh?

Andean condors can weigh up to 33 lb (14 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Andean condors don't have specific names for males and females.

What would you call a baby Andean condor?

Like most baby birds, young condors are called nestlings when very young, then as they grow they become a chick or a fledgling.

What do they eat?

Like all vultures, Andean condor diets mostly include carrion (the flesh of dead animals). These birds of prey prefer to eat the meat of larger animals like cows, sheep, horses, goats, rheas, llamas, and deer. They soar high in the sky to locate dead animals and by eating them they perform a very significant role in cleaning up the environment and preventing the spread of various diseases. In case their habitat ranges along the coast, they also eat dead fish, seals, and sometimes whale carcasses.

Although their talons are blunter than the claws of other predator birds like eagles, they sometimes pick up eggs from the nests of other birds.

Although Andean condors are mainly scavengers they also hunt small birds, rabbits, and marmots when food is in short supply. These birds do not have well-developed hunting skills and cannot swoop, grasp, and lift their prey as easily as other predator birds. They stand on the animal to grasp them with their talons. When they manage to do so, these scavenging birds start feeding on the live animals.

Andean condors have a feeding pattern where they start eating a fresh carcass from the anus. Gradually they move toward the head but generally never eat the brain or break open the skull. The liver and muscles are the favorite of these birds and are generally eaten first.

The unavailability of food can be a major reason for the decline in the Andean condor population. Some studies suggest that in the northern areas of their habitat, where food is scarce, condors have a tendency to search for food near roads and are often victims of car accidents.

Are they dangerous?

Andean condors are not dangerous. Condors usually do not hunt, and they only feed on dead carcasses. When food is scarce they may attack live animals such as sheep, goats, and alpacas. Andean condors do not attack humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Andean condors do not make good pets as they are wild birds of prey and cannot be domesticated. Andean condors' wingspan is too big to be kept in homes, especially when they need to fly around. It is also illegal to capture these wild birds.

Did you know...

Andean condors usually have a single mate for their entire lives and are social birds. They tend to flock together and sit near each other while scavenging, sunbathing, and even in the evenings when they sleep. It is only while nesting and laying eggs that the pair will separate from the flock.

Andean condors are thought to have a system of social hierarchy. Males are more dominant than females and adults control juveniles. The most dominant males occupy the best spots of the ledge with better protection from the wind and maximum sun exposure throughout the day.

To keep their body cool, Andean condors use a peculiar mechanism like other vultures and condors. The birds poop on their legs to use the liquid feces as a coolant. When the liquid excrement evaporates it helps to cool down their legs. This behavior is also known as ‘urohydrosis.’ This is a reason why Andean condors often have stained legs, they get the white tinge from uric acid.

Andean condors that weigh 30 lb (13 kg) can devour up to 10 lb (4 kg) of food in one meal. When condors eat more than they can handle, they cannot fly away and will wait for a while to digest their meal.

Andean condors are a species of birds that have a surprisingly long lifespan. Thaao, an Andean condor in Beardsley Zoo, Connecticut lived till the age of 80. In the wild, they can live up to 50 years.

These condors have several adaptation features to help cope with their habitat and lifestyle. The adult birds have white flight feathers which are thought to work as a training guide while they give flying lessons to the young condors. They are easy to spot from a height and the fledglings can follow the trail of the adult conveniently.

Andean condors have bald heads and necks for a reason. Because they survive on rotting meat, they need to keep themselves clean. Having a fleshy head is helpful when they clean themselves up.

While flying, Andean condors generally do not flap their wings. They use thermal air currents to their advantage to soar high and stay aloft.

Different cultures of South America associate with Andean condors differently. Some countries give this regal bird great importance and have given it a place on the coat of arms of their country. They enjoy the status of being the national bird of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile.

Andean condors have the largest wingspan, but this does not make them the best flyers. Their enormous weight is a barrier to their speed. That’s a reason why these birds inhabit areas that are high and windy. It gives them the advantage to glide, rather than fly when they are detecting food on the ground.

Andean Condors are a vulture and play a very important role in keeping the ecosystem clean by eating dead and decaying animals. All scavenging animals play a significant role in the ecosystem, but they are often associated with death. When the scavengers eat carrion, they prevent the spread of diseases. They have a strong immune system that keeps them safe from deadly diseases, salmonella, rabies, tuberculosis, and anthrax.

In many cultures, Andean condors are associated with death. They are captured and mistreated during rituals and festivals. Some traditions lead to the slow death of condors when they are beaten or tied to a bull. Protests, breeding in captivity, and awareness campaigns are helping the Andean condor population to restore gradually.

Art dating back to 2500 B.C. shows an Andean condor, this has earned the bird great importance in many countries. In South American history, the largest raptor occupies a legendary place and to this day they stand as an official symbol of many South American nations.

Andean Condor's Survival Techniques

In captivity and the wild, Andean condors choose to be cavity nesters when they want to lay eggs. They often choose large holes at the top of tall trees like redwood and sequoia. The elevation saves them from predators and human inference.

Condors do not have many predators, though their eggs may be eaten by foxes and other predatory birds. They are generally silent birds but to defend their nests they will hiss, snort, and grunt.

Symbolism Of Andean Condors

You can see an Andean condor in the wild if you are extremely lucky, just like their northern cousins, California condors. Their depleting numbers make them rarer to spot, so it's an honor if you can see one.

All condors have an important role to play in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem by eating the dead bodies of animals.

Condors are seen differently by different cultures. Some cultures respect the bird because of their power, liberty, superior health, and immunity so they give them an important place in their culture. Some fear these birds and connect them to death. In some traditions, various organs and bones of this bird are used for making traditional medicines. As the belief goes, condor feathers placed under the pillow can drive away nightmares, the stomach of a condor can cure breast cancer, and a roasted eye can restore eyesight.

According to the Incas, condors were the carriers of the sun. They were messengers of God who brought the sun every morning.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the Secretary bird or the Great green macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Andean condor coloring pages.

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