Andean condors offer the ultimate in viewings for avid birders and amateurs alike. The massive birds are some of the largest flying creatures in the world, and are a highlight of nature travel through the Andes. A particularly good place to spot these awesome animals is at Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.
Look for a bird that measures between 100 and 130 centimeters with great, soaring wings that reach as wide as 320 centimeters. This bird, listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List, has glossy black plumage with white flight feathers on its wings. It is characterized by these traits and its downy white ruff around its neck, according to Arkive.
The bird's scientific name, Vultur gryphus, is derived from the Latin words "vultur" and "vello," which both mean to pluck or tear, referring to its carnivorous diet of small mammals. "Gryphus" means griffon, referring to the bird's hooked bill, according to The Peregrine Fund.
This majestic bird is often killed for sport in South America, where it roams mostly in alpine areas and open grasslands in the continent's mountainous regions. This, combined with its low reproductive output, make it vulnerable to human prosecution, Arkive reports.
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