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condor

condor, common name for certain American vultures, found in the high peaks of the Andes of South America and the Coast Range of S California. Condors are the largest of the living birds, nearly 50 in. (125 cm) long with a wingspread of from 9 to 10 ft (274–300 cm). Voracious eaters, they prefer carrion but will attack living animals as large as deer. Two eggs are laid in a sketchy cliff nest of twigs; the young are unable to fly until they are about a year old. The Andean condor, Vultur gryphus, has black plumage with white wing patches and a white neck ruff. The lead-colored head and neck are bare; the male has a comb and wattles. The rare California condor, or California vulture, Gymnogyps californianus, is all black with white wing bands. Condors, particularly the California species (which has only recently been reintroduced into the wild), are extremely rare and on the verge of extinction. Forming long-term pair bonds, the California condor only lays one egg and does not breed until at least six years old. Condors are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Falconiformes, family Cathartidae.

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condor

con·dor / ˈkänˌdôr; -dər/ • n. a large New World vulture with a bare head and mainly black plumage. Two species: the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) of South America and the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), which is close to extinction in the wild.

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condor

condor Common name for two species of the American vulture: the black Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the rare grey-brown California condor (Gymnogyps californianus). Two of the largest flying birds they feed on rotted carrion. Length: up to 127cm (50in). Wing-span: up to 3.5m (10ft).

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condor

condor large S. American vulture. XVII. — Sp. cóndor — Quechua cuntur.

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condors

condors See CATHARTIDAE.

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condor

condor •jackdaw • battledore •landau, Landor •chador • vendor • humidor • lobster thermidor • cuspidor • corridor •stevedore • Isidore • condor •stormdoor • Sodor • Theodore •toreador • troubadour • picador •commodore • parador • Labrador •matador • conquistador • Salvador •Ecuador

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Condor

Condor

The condor is a large vulture that feeds mainly on carrion. Gymnogyps californianus, the California condor, is found in the mountains of southern California. It is extremely endangered, with 140 birds surviving as of 2007. Its body is about 50 inches long, and it has a bald yellow head. The bare, reddish neck is circled by a black feathered ruff. There are white feathers on the underside of the wings.

Vultur gryphus, the Andean condor, found in the Andes from Venezuela to the Strait of Magellan, is also threatened with extinction. The body length varies from 52 to 63 inches, and the wingspan can be up to ten feet. A bald, reddish, crest-crowned head tops a bare, reddish neck circled by a white feathered ruff. There are white feathers on the wings. Both species have long, powerful, hooked beaks. Their bodies and wings are covered by dark gray feathers. All species of condor are strictly protected.

When the Incas ruled the central Andes the condor was considered an apu or spirit. When a dead condor fell from the sky into the central patio of the capital Cuzco's Acllawasi, or House of the Virgins, it was interpreted as a bad omen. Shortly thereafter Pizarro arrived at Cajamarca. After the Conquest by the Spanish, a new cultural tradition developed called Yawar Fiesta or Blood Celebration where the Spanish bull and the Andean condor struggle to the death. This is topic of José María Argueda's novel of the same name and in the early twenty-first century exists in popular culture being depicted in retablos, usually one of three scenes, the other two being the harvest and the birth of Christ representing the hybrid culture of the Andes. In this tripartite cultural and political construction, the indigenous harvest coexists alongside the Birth of Christ, but Spanish and Andean cultures continue in conflict as represented by the bloody struggle between bull and the condor.

When the first Spaniards arrived in South America in the 1530s, the condor was flourishing along the Andes from northern Venezuela down to the Tierra del Fuego. Regrettably, loss of habitat, hunting by humans, and pesticides have taken their toll. One of the few places were the Vultur gryphus thrives is the Colca Cañon in Peru, a favorite stop for ecotourists. The Andean condor is today the national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru and is the subject of the popular song "El condor pasa" ("The condor Passes By") arranged by the Peruvian folklorist Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913.

See alsoEnvironment and Climate .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arguedas, José María. Yawar Fiesta. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.

Andrews, Michael Alford. The Flight of the Condor: A Wildlife Exploration of the Andes. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982.

Baschieri Salvadori, Francesco B. Rare Animals of the World. New York: Mallard Press, 1990.

Bierhorst, John. "The Condor Seeks a Wife." In his Black Rainbow: Legends of the Incas and Myths of Ancient Peru. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976.

Cohn, Jeffrey P. "The Return of the California Condor." In Endangered Species, edited by Shasta Gaughen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006.

Dorr, Kirstie A. "Mapping 'El Condor Pasa': Sonic Translocations in the Global Era." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 16, no. 1 (March 2007): 11-25.

Jara, Víctor. "El condor pasa." Performed by Conjunto Kollahuara, Víctor Jara solist. On Music of the Andes. Compact disc. [S.l.]: Hemisphere, 1994.

Luthin, Herbert W. "Condor Steals Falcon's Wife" (Yowlumni Yokuts, 1930). In Surviving through the Days: Translations of Native California Stories and Songs: A California Indian Reader. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Patzelt, Erwin. Fauna del Ecuador. Quito: Banco Central del Ecuador, 1989.

Wilcove, David Samuel. The Condor's Shadow: The Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America. New York: W.H. Freeman and Co, 1999.

                                        Thomas Ward

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Condors

Condors

Return to the wild

Resources

Condors are New World vultures that are among the largest of flying birds. There are only two species, the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus ) and the critically endangered California condor (Gymnogyps california-nus ). They are related to the smaller vultures of the Americas, including the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa ) and turkey vulture (Cathartes aura ), which also belong to family Cathartidae. In the same family, but extinct for about 10, 000 years was the largest flying bird that ever lived. This was Teratornis incredibilis, a vulture found in the southwestern United States that had a wingspan of at least 16 ft (4.9 m).

The combined head and body length of the living condors is about 50 in (127 cm), and they weigh 20-25 lb (9-11 kg). They have black or dark brown plumage with

white patches on the underside of the wings. The California condor has a wing span of 9 ft (2.7 m), while that of the Andean condor is 10 ft (3.1 m). Both species have a ruff of feathers around the neck, colored black on the California condor and white on the Andean. Both condors have a bald head and a short, sharply hooked beak. The Andean condors naked skin is grayish red, while that of the California condor is pinkish orange. The Andean male has an extra fleshy growth on top of its head, rather like a roosters comb. The California condor does not have this growth.

The range of the Andean condor extends throughout the high Andes Mountains, and much of this habitat remains wild. It can fly over the highest peaks, but may land on lower-lying fields to scavenge dead animals. Although rare, this species still exists in relatively large numbers.

The California condor, however, is one of the most critically endangered animals on Earth. Historically, its range extended over much of North America, when it once foraged for carcasses of large ice age mammals. However, the condors began to decline at about the same time that many of these large mammals became extinct, around 10, 000-12, 000 years ago. By the time of the European settlement, the range of the California condor was restricted to the western coast and mountains. As human populations in the region grew, the condor population declined further. By the 1950s its range was restricted to a small area of central California surrounding the southern end of the San Joaquin valley. In recent decades, condor habitat has been further disrupted by petroleum drilling, planting of citrus groves, and residential developments. In addition, rangeland where dead cattle might have been scavenged was extensively converted to cultivated fields of alfalfa and other crops. California condors have also suffered lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot or bullets in carrion. They have also been affected by DDT and other insecticides.

California condors lay only a single egg. After hatching, it takes the young condor 18 months to develop its wings sufficiently for flight. During that time, the chick is vulnerable to cold or hunger, especially when its parents fly far to forage for food, leaving the chick exposed for an extended time. It takes six years for a California condor to attain sexual maturity. Because of its low fecundity, its population cannot sustain much mortality.

Return to the wild

It was obvious by the 1950s that California condors were in danger of extinction. In 1978, there were only about 30 birds left in the wild, and nine years later only six. At that time, all wild California condors were captured by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and taken to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo, where over 20 other condors were already in residence. The zoos began a captive breeding program for the California condor, and by 1996, 103 individuals were alive. The population recovery was sufficient to allow some birds to be introduced back into the wild.

To test ideas about how best to return condors to the wild, several Andean condors were brought to the United States and released in a national forest. It quickly became apparent that there were too many human activities and influences in the area for the condors to be reintroduced successfully. They had to be released farther from civilization. To this end, the Sespe Condor Sanctuary was acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a wilderness habitat for these endangered birds. First two, then several additional California condors were released to this area. When several birds were poisoned by lead shot in carrion they ate, it became clear that the reintroduced birds would have to be provided with safe food until their numbers increased. By January 2006, there were 127 wild birds at five release sites, including 44 that were over six years old (the age at which breeding can begin). Breeding in the wild resumed in 2002, and by September 2005, 17 attempts had been recorded, from which four offspring were still surviving. The reintroduction program continues and has expanded its geographic coverage to include two areas in California and two more in Baja California. The ultimate goal is to establish at least two separate populations of more than 150 birds each.

The California condor has received a reprieve from extinction, but its survival depends on the continuation of intensive management efforts and the conservation of sufficient habitat to sustain a viable breeding population.

Resources

BOOKS

Caras, Roger A. Source of the Thunder: The Biography of a California Condor. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

Moir, John. Return of the Condor: The Race to Save our Largest Bird from Extinction. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2006.

Nielsen, John. Condor: To the Brink and BackThe Life and Times of One Giant Bird. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.

Silverstein, A., V. Silverstein, and L. Nunn. The California Condor. Millbrook Press, 1998.

Jean F. Blashfield

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Condors

Condors

Condors are New World vultures that are among the largest of flying birds . There are only two species , the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and the critically endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus). They are related to the smaller vultures of the Americas, including the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) and turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), which also belong to family Cathartidae. In the same family, but extinct for about 10,000 years was the largest flying bird that ever lived. This was Teratornis incredibilis, a vulture found in the southwestern United States that had a wingspan of at least 16 ft (4.9 m).

The combined head and body length of the living condors is about 50 in (127 cm), and they weigh 20–25 lb (9–11 kg). They have black or dark brown plumage with white patches on the underside of the wings. The California condor has a wing span of 9 ft (2.7 m), while that of the Andean condor is 10 ft (3.1 m). Both species have a ruff of feathers around the neck, colored black on the California condor and white on the Andean. Both condors have a bald head and a short, sharply hooked beak. The Andean condor's naked skin is red, while that of the California condor is pinkish orange. The Andean male has an extra fleshy growth on top of its head, rather like a rooster's comb. The California condor does not have this growth.

The range of the Andean condor extends throughout the high Andean Mountains, and much of this habitat remains wild. It can fly over the highest peaks, but may land on lower-lying fields to scavenge dead animals. Although rare, this species still exists in relatively large numbers.

The California condor, however, is one of the most critically endangered animals on Earth . Historically, its range extended over much of North America , when it once foraged for carcasses of large ice age mammals . However, the condors began to decline at about the same time that many of these large mammals became extinct, around 10–12 thousand years ago. By the time of the European settlement, the range of the California condor was restricted to the western coast and mountains . As human populations in the region grew, the condor population declined further. By the 1950s its range was restricted to a small area of central California surrounding the southern end of the San Joaquin valley. In recent decades, condor habitat has been further disrupted by petroleum drilling, planting of citrus groves, and residential developments. In addition, rangeland where dead cattle might have been scavenged was extensively converted to cultivated fields of alfalfa and other crops . California condors have also suffered lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot or bullets in carrion. They have also been affected by DDT and other insecticides .

California condors lay only a single egg. After hatching, it takes the young condor 18 months to develop its wings sufficiently for flight. During that time, the chick is vulnerable to cold or hunger, especially when its parents fly far to forage for food, leaving the chick exposed for an extended time. It takes six years for a California condor to attain sexual maturity. Because of its low fecundity, its population cannot sustain much mortality.

Return to the wild

It was obvious by the 1950s that California condors were in danger of extinction . In 1978, there were only about 30 birds left in the wild, and seven years later only nine. At that time, all wild California condors were captured by the Fish and Wildlife Service and taken to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo, where several other condors were already in residence. The zoos began a captive breeding program for the California condor, and by 1996, 103 individuals were alive. The population recovery has been sufficient to allow some birds to be introduced back into the wild.

To test ideas about how best to return condors to the wild, several Andean condors were brought to the United States and released in a national forest. It quickly became apparent that there were too many human activities and influences in the area for the condors to be reintroduced successfully. They had to be released farther from civilization. To this end, the Sespe Condor Sanctuary was acquired by the Fish and Wildlife Service as a wilderness habitat for these endangered birds. First two, then several additional California condors were released to this area. When several birds were poisoned by bullets in carrion they ate, it became clear that the reintroduced birds would have to be provided with safe food until their numbers increased. In late 1998, 22 condors were in the wild in southern California and 14 in Arizona. The ultimate goal is to establish at least two separate populations of more than 150 birds each.

The California condor has received a reprieve from extinction, but its survival depends on the continuation of intensive management efforts and the conservation of sufficient habitat to sustain a viable breeding population.


Resources

books

Caras, Roger A. Source of the Thunder: The Biography of aCalifornia Condor. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

Peters, Westberg. Condor. New York: Crestwood House, 1990.

Silverstein, A., V. Silverstein, and L. Nunn. The CaliforniaCondor. Millbrook Press, 1998.


Jean F. Blashfield

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