The bald head and strong beak of this California condor are not fashion statements—they are useful adaptations.
Like all vultures, California condors are scavengers. They eat the carcasses of dead animals. When they eat, the birds often insert their entire heads into the belly of a carcass, which is full of harmful bacteria. The lack of feathers keeps bacteria and rotting, decomposing flesh from sticking to the condor's head.
The California condor's beak is large and powerful. It is also very sharp. It needs to be, in order to feed on carcasses. The beaks of California condors are strong enough to break the bones of animals such as goats and pigs. They are sharp enough to tear the tough hide of horses and cattle.
Despite their fierce appearance, however, California condors are no danger to people or pets.
a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.
(singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.
hard, protruding jaws of a bird.
largest land bird of North America, with a wingspan of 3 meters (9.5 feet).
cows and oxen.
wild or savage.
leather skin of an animal.
organism that eats dead or rotting biomass, such as animal flesh or plant material.
bird that mostly eats dead animals.