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Andean Condor

The Andean Condor is the world's largest flying bird when combining weight and wingspan. It's a beautiful sounding word, "Condor", conjuring a vision of a huge bird gliding effortlessly on mountains updrafts, soaring with wingspans reaching as wide as eleven feet.

This bird has intrigued people for thousands of years. The Ancient culture, the Nasca, made Condor geoglyphs, enormous line drawings on the dry desert of southern Peru some 1500 years ago.

But the Condor has another side that is not quite so romantic because it is in fact a VULTURE, feeding primarily on carrion like goats and cows. It is equipped to rip through tough hides with its knife-sharp hooked beak. Nature doesn't waste anything.

They like to nest at high elevations, up to 16,000 feet, and usually on inaccessible rock ledges. Sandra My, our great guide, showed us areas on the cliff where the Condors nest and live. Some of the white areas on the cliff image was made by Condors.

On the huge expanse of the Antisana Reserve, an hour's drive outside Quito, Ecuador, we were excited to view Condors circling in the distance. The good driver, Fausto, noticed a dead goat on the side of a hill, next to a 200-year old brick and thatched roofed structure and reasoned that we should set up our cameras and wait inside for a Condor to come. We did, but it didn't! But just around the next bend we found five of them standing in a meadow just out reach for a good clear shot. I was able finally to capture a couple of images that are not of very good quality, because of distance and back-lighting, but at least the stately huge Condor is identifiable. Nonetheless, it was a great thrill to see the world's biggest living flying creature.

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Another edifying blog. Thanks and looking forward to your next blog.


Susan Rouillier
Bird Photographer and Painter

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