The Giants of the Sky

April 21st, 2008 Posted in fauna

Written by Shanie 

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), the largest of all birds of prey, is the guardian of the longest mountain range in the world.  It’s wings stretch ten feet across, perfect for climbing to great altitudes in the sky.  They are glorious creatures that surf the air currents with grace, speed, and the occasional stall.  Their glossy black feathers contrast the white plumage on the upper wings and fuzzy choker decoration to the neck. 

The Condor, in it’s full prime, is four feet tall and weighs 20 to 30 pounds.  Due to it’s immense size the giant land bird must stay grounded in wet weather and can’t fly if its wings are wet.  

While driving home from a great day skiing at Las Leñas, we came across two adults chowing some carcus, washing in the river, and then stretching their giant wings, the ends reaching out like fingers.  They did a reggae type hop, one leg to another, drying their wings in the Andean sun and evening winds.  It was a National Geographic moment for sure.

The Condor is a family bird.  It is a joint affair in raising the young.  Both sexes are involved for up to two years, creating a home in a private, inaccesible spot within the rock cliffs.  They live for nearly a half of a century, often remaining with the same partner, and cliff area to call home, their entire lives.

Sitting on top of Punto Norte the other day we could hear the wind whistling through the smooth feathers of the large condors flying by.  That is how close they were.  Their crest revealing who was the girl and who was the boy.  They looked down at us with their crimson colored eyes, daring us to play with them in the turbulent winds. 

I wish I could.

  1. 5 Responses to “The Giants of the Sky”

  2. By Quickroute on Apr 22, 2008

    I saw one in the zoo here yesterday – they are HUGE – but obviously not as impressive as in the wild! – Were you able to see the orcas in Punta Norte?

  3. By Patagonia on Apr 22, 2008

    Quickie, this is Punta Norte in Bariloche. Haven’t made it to the coast and marine wildlife yet, it’s on the list though!

  4. By CHANGCHO on Apr 23, 2008

    Majestic birds; thanks, nice post.

  5. By Lea on Apr 25, 2008

    them be cool birdies.

  6. By Patagonia on Apr 25, 2008

    Yah, they are pretty amazing creatures!

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