CONDOR (Sp., from Pcruv. euntur, condor). The great vulture (Sareoramphus gryphus) of the Andes, and the largest of known flying birds, unless the albatross may sometimes exceed it. Its dimensions, however, have often been far overstated, the truth being that it varies in length from 44 to 55 inches. and in expanse of wing from 81/2 to 101 feet. The wings are long and extremely powerful; the tail short, and wedge shaped ; the general color black, which is bright est in old males, which have much white in the wing. The young are brownish. Around the lower part of the neck of both sexes there is a broad white ruff of downy feathers, above which the skin is bare and exhibits many folds. The head of the male is crowned with a large, red dish, cartilaginous comb, and the neck is fur nished with a dilatable wattle. The beak is thick and strong, straight at the base, hut the upper mandible strongly curved at the extremity. The condor feeds mostly on carrion. Its voracity is enormous. Tschudi mentions one in confinement at Valparaiso which ate eighteen pounds of meat in a single day, and seemed next day to have as good an appetite as usual. Condors often gorge themselves so that they cannot fly, and, if at tacked, must disgorge in order tc escape. They inhabit regions 10,000 or 15,000 feet above the level of the sea, where they are usually seen in small groups, and where they breed, making no nest. but laying their eggs on the bare rocks. To these haunts they return, after their descent into the plains for food. The height to which the condor soars in the air exceeds that of any other bird, and is often far above the clouds.
Closely related to the condor, but distinguished by differences in the cartilaginous comb, bare neck, and shape of the bill, are the king vulture, or king of vultures (Gyparehus papa), of the warm parts of America, and the Californian vul ture (Pseudogryphus California nus). The king vulture is about the size of a goose, and derives its name from its driving away other vultures from prey at its pleasure. Its plumage is finely colored, reddish above, white beneath, with blu ish-gray ruff, and black quills and tail. The Californian vulture is often longer and of greater expanse of wing than the condor, but is not so heavy a bird. It is duller colored, and has less white on the wings. Its range was re stricted to the Pacific coast region, from Oregon southward; it was nowhere really common, and it has now become extinct, except possibly in Lower California. Like other American vul tures. it has no voice, the only sound that it utters being a hoarse hiss or sort of weak snort ing. All these large American vultures belong to the family Cathartid:e, which includes the turkey-buzzards, and is less falconine than the Old World vultures. See and Plate of VULTURES; and EXTINCT ANIMALS.
The first satisfactory account of the condors was given by Humboldt. Consult: Darwin. A Naturalist's Voyage (London, 1860) ; Stejne ger, Riverside Natural History, vol. iv. (Boston, 1S85) ; Lucas, Annual Report of United States National Museum, 1889 (Washington, 1891).