Learning About Condors & Vultures

head shot Andean condor
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Andean Condor (above)

I watch a lot of old Westerns and you can always count on the scene where the vultures are circling above the guy that was left in the desert to die just before being rescued (sometimes).

 
I’d like to point out some of the benefits vulture ownership can offer (should you wish to commit a felony). If you have a home on a sizable  property -1 acre, 5 acres, 10 acres – a vulture flock will keep it free of any and all debris/vermin/rodents/dead cats. Vultures are nature’s janitors.

 
If you look at any vulture, have skin rather tan feathers This is for sanitation reasons. Because they stick their heads into the carcasses of dead animals, the skin is easier to keep clean than feathers

 
Condors, which are also part of the vulture family, are dying of lead poisoning in the western United States by ingesting shotgun lead in the belly of carcasses abandoned by hunters as well as pesticides ingested by the orey.
Should you be in the market for a vulture or pair, I know a guy – his prices for picking up your bird in some African country are published below.
editors note: He takes credits card but we can’t promise he’ll give them back

As we follow the path of these majestic scavengers of the sky we learned the term “Condor” belongs in two distinct bird species but are both referred to as “New World” vultures 

Although the California condor once dominated the skies of the Northwest pocket of our country  only 22 California condors could be found by the late 1980s. The small flock was then harvested into captivity in order to create a captive breeding program with the goal of growing the flock once again.
 
About 10 years later the successful program introduced these birds back into the northern portions of Mexico and California. Ironically a new threat to the condors because of their wingspan is the risk from utility lines and within the captive breeding program abortion training is taught to help them avoid these man-made risks.
 
turkey vulture outside on window sill
 
These big bad boys and girls are big birds by any standards with 10 foot wingspans. 
 
The other condor species that caught my eye was the Andean Condor which is a South American bird usually seen on the Western side of the Andes. Although not at risk for extinction several zoos have begun breeding programs to make sure these beautiful birds don’t fade from the earth.
 
Condors like vultures have skin rather tan feathers on their head for hygiene reasons (as in poking their heads into the cavities of dead carcasses).And if you see change the color of their skin change you know their emotions are changing I certainly wouldn’t want to be near one to try to figure it all out. 
 
These birds can live with their parents for more than a year because it takes around six months for them to learn how to fly and they wait until they’re about six before they begin to start breeding.
Condors are a species of bird that mates for life which could be one of their downfalls because they never try to use any dating services after their mate dies so they end up being single for the rest of their life.
Feathered factoid: Ruppell’s vultures have been reported to be seen at altitudes of 35,000 feet (7 miles) by commercial airline pilots.
Turns out something in their DNA allows their blood to squeeze more O2 out their blood cells than the average – well anything. 
 
Some of the biggest threats to condors are because they’re scavengers. They can be poisoned from the animals they prey upon where poisons are found in the bodies.
Poisons used to control these pests. They could also swallow lead (from guns) from the animals bodies they feast upon. This is one of the reasons that California condor’s are tested for lead poisoning regularly.
 
 
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