Watching an Andean condor soar through the wind is a truly spectacular sight. Large in size, yet effortlessly graceful — these beautiful giants serve as one of the Chile’s favorite creatures. It’s easy to see why. The condor has many unique qualities and characteristics that sets it apart from other birds. Curious to learn more? Test your wildlife knowledge with 15 fast facts about Andean condors:
1. Condors are one of the largest flying birds in the world. They can actually weigh up to 15 kg or 33 lbs.
2. They have a wingspan of up 3.2 meters! That’s equivalent to 10.5 feet or roughly two times the height of an average female.
3. The Andean condor is Chile’s national bird and is part of the country’s coat of arms.
4. Due to their weight and size, condors prefer to fly in windy areas. This way, they can glide along with the breeze.
5. One way to distinguish between male and female condors is to look at their eyes! Females have red eyes, while males have brown.
6. The condor is part of the Inca trilogy, along with the snake and puma. Incas believed the condor was a sacred bird and represented the idea of heaven.
7. Condors have a lot of endurance! In a single day, they can fly as far a 300 km (180 miles) in search of food.
8. The Andean condor is featured in one of Chile’s most popular comics. This famous cartoon character is called Condorito and he’s entertaining kids and adults alike since 1949.
9. Instead of making a nest, condors lay their eggs on the edge of a cliff.
10. Condors are scavengers, typically feeding off of animals that have already died.
11. They live a very long life! Wild condors can live up to 50 years and in captivity they can live longer. The oldest condor that we know of lived to be 80 years old.
12. The condor has a bald head. It’s believed that this characteristic developed due to their feeding habits, as a way to maintain hygiene.
13. Sadly, the condor population has decreased due to poaching and poisoning efforts from ranchers and hunters. Their conservation status is “near threatened.”
14. These birds only reproduce once every two or three years.
15. Andean condors serve as an important symbol in Patagonia, meaning power, liberty and health.
Want to see an Andean condor for yourself? Click to learn more about EcoCamp’s Wildlife Safari, offering day trips to Salto Grande and El Condor lookout in Torres del Paine National Park.