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condor

condor, common name for certain American vultures, found in the high peaks of the Andes of South America and the Coast Range of S California. Condors are the largest of the living birds, nearly 50 in. (125 cm) long with a wingspread of from 9 to 10 ft (274–300 cm). Voracious eaters, they prefer carrion but will attack living animals as large as deer. Two eggs are laid in a sketchy cliff nest of twigs; the young are unable to fly until they are about a year old. The Andean condor, Vultur gryphus, has black plumage with white wing patches and a white neck ruff. The lead-colored head and neck are bare; the male has a comb and wattles. The rare California condor, or California vulture, Gymnogyps californianus, is all black with white wing bands. Condors, particularly the California species (which has only recently been reintroduced into the wild), are extremely rare and on the verge of extinction. Forming long-term pair bonds, the California condor only lays one egg and does not breed until at least six years old. Condors are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Falconiformes, family Cathartidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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