California condor

California condors are the largest birds in North America. Like all vultures, condors are carrion-eaters. This means that they feed only on dead animals they find. They can soar as high as 15,000 feet in the air, and they glide for hours without flapping their wings on hot air currents called thermals. Scientists are working hard to save these endangered birds of the sky.

Scientific name: Gymnogyps californianus
Wingspan: 8 to 9 feet long Weight: 20 to 23 pounds
Habitat: nests on rocky cliffs in semi-desert lands of areas in the western United States
Diet: carrion (dead flesh of animal carcasses)
Characteristics: bare pinkish skin around the face, and ruffled feathers around the neck
Threats: overhunting and accidental poisonings

Image credits: main image: courtesy of David Clendenen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.