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Flying with condors

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The Smithsonian Network had a documentary On Demand about world-class British hang glider Judy Leden who wanted to fly with the Andean condors in Patagonia in Argentina. If you get a chance to watch it, I recommend it. (I’ve included a link to a related book by Judy Leden available from Amazon.) The show was light on science, but had beautiful scenery and a little human interest drama (broken bones, crash landings, etc.). It greatly increased my respect for those beautiful birds.

Probably like most people, I thought condors were just large vultures with large wingspans. They are, but they are also quite beautiful and graceful birds while flying. Their young are pretty unattractive, but after they grow up and take flight, they are some of the most amazing gliders in the animal kingdom.

Some interesting facts: the females have red eyes and the males have brown eyes; they create mental “maps” of their surroundings that cover hundreds of square miles, locations of thermals, and seasonal variations; they mate for life, are devoted parents (though absent for long periods each day while searching for food), and are quite social.

Keeping with the theme of this post, here is a YouTube video of a music group I love, NAZCA, performing a song titled Flying Condor:

Amazon has other books, DVDs, and digital music related to or inspired by condors.

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