An amazing bird lives in South America, which is called the "soul of the Andes" - the Andean condor. Its unusual silhouette and impressive size have led some of the original inhabitants of the western part of the mainland to deify this majestic representative of the feathered world, while others are afraid of him and consider meeting him a bad sign. Under the veil of omens and superstition lurks a charming creature that is on the verge of extinction. Let's take a closer look at this rare species.
Andean condor is a member of the vulture family, characterized by huge size. The wingspan of this bird is over three meters, which is more than any other feathered predator. The color of the feathers of the Andean condor is predominantly black with white tips. One of the most expressive signs is a fluffy white collar around the neck. Males differ from females in the presence of peculiar leathery "earrings" on the upper part of the neck, as well as a large crest, whichrises majestically above their heads. With it, they can convey their mood by painting the surface of the comb in different colors. The lack of feathering on the head also has a practical meaning - it allows the skin to be cleansed faster under the action of sunlight.
The mass of an adult Andean condor is from 7 to 15 kg, which makes it the largest bird of prey on the planet. At the same time, males are much larger than females. Their body length varies from 110 to 140 cm. The structure of the claws of the Andean condor is such that it cannot hunt live prey, let alone lift small animals into the air.
The Andean condor, as its name suggests, lives in the Andes mountain range in South America. This type of condor has its nests on mountain peaks, where predators and other pests cannot reach them. It is also a great help for taking off, because it is not easy for such a massive bird to rise from the ground. In the southern regions, Andean condors are found even in more or less flat areas. Despite the fact that these huge birds prefer to build their nests in the mountains, they need plains to find food, since it is easier to notice dead animals on their surface.
The diet of the Andean condor consists mainly of carrion, although they do not disdain the chicks or eggs of some birds. In search of food, these tireless and vigilant scavengers are able to travel about 200 km a day. The Andean Condor is a smart bird, he keeps a close eye on others.lovers carrion, in order to understand by their behavior where prey awaits him. But he does not take food from his smaller colleagues. In fact, crows and other, smaller American vultures benefit from the arrival of the Andean condor, as it is able to tear the animal's thick hide with its powerful beak. After that, weaker birds can easily get to the treasured delicacy.
Interestingly, sometimes Andean condors are so fed up that for some time they cannot even get off the ground. The result of this greed is the ability to go without food for the next few days. But this habit also has a significant drawback - local residents often watched for a sated condor and killed it, taking advantage of the fact that it could not take off. In general, the relationship of this amazing bird with people is quite difficult.
Today, it is almost impossible to see the Andean condor in its natural habitat. The only thing left for us to remember them is a photo of birds and individuals kept in zoos. All this is due to the “care” of people who have been diligently exterminating these representatives of the feathered world for the past century. The condor is a large bird, so it was not difficult to hit it with firearms, as a result of which this most useful species is on the verge of extinction.
But not only hunting has reduced the number of Andean condors. Much more harm they caused the destruction of the environment, which brings with him a man.Due to negative changes in the habitat, the number of these majestic birds has decreased many times over. But the Andean condor performed a very important function. If you do not eat the corpses of animals in time, they become the source of many diseases. Therefore, zoologists are trying their best to restore the population of the Andean condor, breeding it in captivity and resorting to many other tricks.
This variety of condors starts breeding when they reach 5-6 years. Around the beginning of spring, males begin to perform their courtship dance in front of females. If the lady is impressed by the "show" of the male, then they form a couple that will be together for the rest of their lives. Andean condors rarely give birth to offspring - once every 1-2 years. Therefore, it is so difficult to artificially increase their population. However, if the egg is lost, the female will try to lay a new one. Then, for 54-58 days, caring parents hatch the egg together, after which a small, helpless chick is born from it.
The baby is fed by regurgitating slightly overcooked food into its hungry beak. Usually an easy life for young animals lasts up to 2 years, after which they have to leave their native nest. By this time, they fly perfectly, as training for this difficult task begins at the age of six months. If the condors form a large family, then a clear hierarchy is established in it.
Andean condors in captivity
One of the unexpected places where the Andean condor lives is the Moscow Zoo. As it turns out, these birdscan live happily in captivity. Some individuals were so well mastered within the walls of the zoo that they lived there up to 70 years. The daily diet of the Andean condor in captivity is approximately 1.5 kg of meat, 200 g of fish and a couple of rats. Obviously, such a menu was to the taste of exotic guests. An example of this is a condor from the Moscow zoo named Kuzya. He was caught already an adult, but at the same time he lived in captivity for more than 60 years.
Since then, many condors that got into the Moscow zoo have been given the nickname Kuzya. Today, two South American birds live in the walls of the zoo - a male and a female. Let's hope that they will leave offspring, increasing the population of Andean condors on Earth. Photos of the birds, majestically located in their enclosures, are kept as a keepsake in the archives of the zoo.
Will they survive?
Today people realized how important the Andean condor is to the ecosystem of our planet. Zoologists began to intensively restore the population of this useful bird, and hunting for it is becoming less and less common. The legend of the Andean condors carrying away livestock and small children in their paws has been debunked, and their benefits have become obvious. Who knows what would have happened if people had caught on a couple of years later. Perhaps then we could only see the Andean condor in photographs.
Today this species is on the verge of extinction, but it has a future. Let's hope that our descendants will live in a world in which the Andean condor takes its rightful place.