Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Andean Giants

CONDOR! This impressive bird (Vultur gryphus), one of the largest vultures in the world, was a long way off as it circled high above me, floating close to the rugged crags of the Atacama Desert. Even so, its massive size was evident - condors have a wingspan which can reach 3.2m, more than another whole METRE on top of my 2m armspan! As soon as I saw the white colar I knew instantly this bird, and the juvenile with which it drifted, was a condor, and as I am always delighted by a pair of massive feathers arms overhead, I grinned from ear to ear! What a sight!

Like other vultures, condors are scavenging birds, feeding on the carcasses of dead animals which include the indiginous Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) a member of the camel family, pictured below), as well as introduced sheep and goats. Unlike eagles, they do not have the specialy adapted crushing ability in their feet, nor the large talons capable of inflicting a mortal wound to live prey. Delcines in the availability of their native prey has reduced the Andean Condor population significantly, and they are now listed as ´Near Threatened´, but the sheer expanse of the unique Andes Mountains has meant the species still has a stronghold. And nothing symbolises this vast mountain range more perfectly than the characteristic silhouette of this truly magical bird.

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