South Patagonian’s famous winds have become known throughout the world as the wind that blows forever.
Our distinctive geography is the perfect scenery for the wind to dance, sometimes smoothly, but most times as strong as the fire of a furious dragon.
Mountains, hanging glaciers, Nothofagus forests, birds and mammals, are all part of this windy scene. We can say that the Patagonian Ice Field is the greatest of all backstages for the wind to prepare for a show…on the days in which the wind is smooth as silk, there is often a special someone who appears to steal all the attention… the Andean Condor.
The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is a vulture that is endemic to South America. Its great size and personality have turned it into an Andean emblem. It is the largest bird with the capacity to fly in existence, and this is evident when we see its wingspan while it glides. Their wingspan can reach 3.3 meters and they can weigh as much as 15 kg.
The Andean Condor is a large black vulture with a ruff of white feathers surrounding the base of the neck and, especially in the male, large white patches on the wings. The head and neck are nearly featherless and are a faded red color, which may flush and therefore change color in response to the bird’s emotional state. In the male, there is a wattle on the neck and a large, dark red caruncle on the crown of the head. The female condor is smaller than the male, an exception to the rule among birds of prey.
So, as I was saying, if you come to untamed Patagonia, there are two kinds of sky spectacles, the wind and the Condors.
It is unusual to see these birds flapping their wings to reach their destination, as they are masters of gliding. They fly using the air currents, moving seemingly effortlessly from one to another while conquering the sky.
It is impossible not to shout “LOOK!” in their presence. Sometimes you can see one or two condors, but if you are lucky, you might see a whole family of condors dancing together as if they were celebrating life.
The condor is a scavenger and they are the first to get their pick at dead prey. Its hairless neck allows it to dive into the flesh of the dead animals, taking the tastiest parts of it. Sometimes you can see them gliding in the air, looking down toward the ground in search of a carcass, but when they are neither feasting nor flying, you can see them sitting on their rocky nests.
As I said, they are an emblem, not only for conservation issues but also because it is an animal that reaches people’s hearts. Maybe because of its overwhelming size, and longevity, or maybe because they can search for you in your dreams. If you come to Patagonia, you will surely see their show, and, hopefully, understand what I mean.