Andean condors roost on cliff faces and use thermal currents to lift off in the morning, and then spend most of the day soaring on updrafts looking for food. These birds scavenge on the remains of sheep, llamas, cattle, seals and occasionally newborn animals or the eggs of seabirds. The Andean condor’s excellent eyesight allows it to spot a carcass from several miles away, and this bird is also known to watch the behaviour of other animals or follow smaller scavenging birds to find a carcass (7). Its sharp, curved beak can easily tear through the flesh and hides of the toughest carcasses (7) (9). Up to 40 Andean condors have been observed together at a single large carcass (2).
The Andean condor has a long lifespan, in excess of 50 years, but breeds very slowly (7). Sexual maturity is not attained until 7 to 11 years, after which these birds, like all condors, mate for life (7). The male conducts an elaborate courtship display involving drawing the body up and fully extending the wings, as well as making loud tongue clicks, while the reddish skin of the neck becomes bright yellow (8). The female lays a single egg every other year, which both the male and female take turns to incubate (7) for about 54 to 58 days (8). The young Andean condors take a lot of time and effort to raise, being unable to fly until they are six months old and remaining reliant upon the adults for up to two more years (2) (7).