The majestic Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds. They may have an 11-foot wingspan and weigh up to 33 pounds. Adults have a distinctive white ruff, and adult males have a red comb and wattle. They are scavengers, consuming only dead animals. Historically, their principal food in the steppe was probably the guanaco, but currently in many areas of Patagonia they consume mostly livestock and introduced species such as European hares and red deer.
In the Andean Patagonia Steppe Landscape, WCS is studying the relationship between the condor and its native food species, and carrying out surveys to locate roosting and nesting sites. We are working with local goat herders to improve the status of the principal native food species of the Andean condor.
Once found throughout the Patagonian steppe, Andean condors have been extirpated from much of the area because they consumed poisoned carcasses of livestock that were placed by ranchers to kill predators. They are also persecuted and killed by people who erroneously believe that they kill their livestock.