International Vulture Awareness Day — Andean Condors
One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it alerts you to an event that may have slipped under your radar — yesterday (Sept 5) was International Vulture Awareness Day. Many others in the geoblogosphere have already posted (Geotripper, Looking for Detachment, The Ethical Paleontologist, and Geogypsy)
So, a day late, here is my post about Andean condors (which is actually repost from a while back).
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 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.