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Friday Field Foto #56: Andean condor

June 20, 2008

Eric from The Dynamic Earth had a post earlier this week about animals encountered while in the field. That reminded me about some photographs of Andean condors from my work in Patagonia that I’ve been meaning to post.

The Andean condor is huge … wingspan can reach 3 m (10 ft). On average, this is longer than its North American cousin, the California condor (although they are longer from beak to tail).

Because Andean condors like to take advantage of rising warm air to soar, you typically find them along mountainsides and big vertical cliff faces. As it turns out, this is also where you can find geologists … that’s where the rocks are.

The photo below zooms in on one while it is flying … although it is difficult to get a sense of scale of the bird against the blue sky.

The next photo below was taken a little bit later that same day. Condors are scavengers, part of the vulture family, and often circle around you (presumably waiting for something bad to happen to you). Once one or two start circling, many more show up. It may be a bit tough to see in this photo, but there are about 10 or so in this shot. We ended up counting 25 at one point!

Even though they are scavengers, they will sometimes fly only a few meters above your head checking you out … it’s a bit disconcerting when your precariously perched on a cliff trying to collect some data.

Finally, the photo below is from earlier this year and is the best close-up I have of a Andean condor not flying. Note the nice white ‘collar’, very preppy … also, note the Cretaceous conglomerate on which it is perched.

Happy Friday!

See all Friday Field Fotos here.

See all posts tagged with ‘wildlife’ here.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2008 5:30 pm

    You have some great photos here! Are those Cretaceous units in the background of photo #2?

  2. June 20, 2008 6:26 pm

    Silver Fox … thanks for the kind words and, yes, that is the Cretaceous Tres Pasos Formation. The resistant buff-colored benches are turbidite sandstone bodies and most of the gray is shaley chaotically deformed stuff, interpreted as mass wasting deposits.

  3. June 23, 2008 6:22 am

    That must’ve been something to see so many in the 2nd photo, and I can’t imagine being buzzed by one at a few meters! Your 3rd photo is fabulous – such prehistoric birds they are.

  4. June 23, 2008 9:40 am

    Adam … and when they do “buzz” you, they are so large you can hear them cutting through the air! It’s a very cool (and a bit freaky) experience.

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