How long do they live? From what we know, which isn’t much,  the Andean Condor can live over 70 years in captivity [1].

Where are they found? Throughout the Andes in South America. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. The range of the Andean Condor.

What do they eat? They eat  dead and decaying flesh, called carrion. Come to think of it, the word carrion is much less gross to type.

What do they look like? The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world and can weigh over 30 pounds. With a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, they look like a majestic character from the Labyrinth.  See Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2. The males have a flappy thing on the top of their face, which looks a bit goofy. Considering they’re giant and could kick my ass, I won’t say it to their face.
Figure 3. A female Andean Condor looking far less goofy than the male. She just  looks like she’ll cut you if given the chance.

How do scientists know how old they are? By studying birds in captivity. That’s all I could find. Currently there are hatch and release programs in place that will eventually shed some light on aging and senescence of these beautiful creatures.

How do they reproduce? Sexual maturity is reached around 6 years old. Once a pair find each other they mate for life [2]. The female usually only lays one egg every two years and I could not find any information regarding reproductive senescence in this species.

So what are we lacking? Information on senescence and reproductive senescence would be interesting.  There’s no information on the nuclear genome of Vultur gryphus on the NCBI website.  I find it odd that we know more about deep sea fish than we know about a long-lived condor that is common in zoos.

Conservation status: The IUCN Red List identifies the Andean Condor as near threatened and their population is declining. In Ecuador they are listed as critically endangered. They are not only killed a lot by people (because that’s the theme on almost all of these animals), but they are also facing major losses to their habitat thanks to the human species.

Please contact me if you would like to to contribute your knowledge about these mesmerizing birds.

  1. Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
  2. “Andean Condor (Vultur Gryphus)”. The Peregrine Fund. Accessed 9/24/2016.