With a 10 foot wingspan, condors are among the largest flying animals on earth. Scavengers, they are often poisoned by eating dead carcasses killed by humans. They are also threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Only a few thousand survive in the Andean region of South America.
Condors have been revered for centuries and have been represented in Andean art since 2500 BC. The national bird or symbol for many South American countries, they are believed to be immortal, like the phoenix rising from symbolic death to live again. The condor is also associated with the sun deity, and acts as a messenger to the gods. Because they are thought to have special healing powers, condors are often killed for their bones and organs. Live birds are also used in religious ceremonies.
Some think the shape of Machu Picchu as seen from the sky resembles a flying condor.