Condors in Patagonia: 2,200-year-old nest discovered

E-mail Print
By Sebastián Silva Alcaíno
Researchers from Argentina and Canada have found that a nest site used by Andean condors in Nahuel Huapi National Park near Bariloche, Argentina, is at least 2,200 years-old and holds a treasure trove of evidence about the specie’s adaptation to environmental change over the past two millennia.
The study, published in the May 2023 edition of the Royal Society B, a biological research journal of the UK’s national science academy, analyzed and dated a 25-centimeter-deep sedimentary rock deposit of guano feces around the condor nest.
Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock
The guano samples analyzed in the study provided historical data on volcanic activity in the area and changes in the birds' diet due to human impact. Among other findings, the scientists say it indicated that the raptors seemed to have abandoned the nest for about 1,000 years due to volcanic activity in the zone before returning to the site around the year 1373. After returning to the site, their diet later shifted from native fauna to cattle, sheep, and exotic species like red deer introduced by European settlers over the past century.
The paper also raises the problems of the exposure to contaminants, finding the presence of lead and mercury in their feces. These heavy metals would have been in the carcasses where the raptors fed.
"This study shows how important particular sites can be that are selected by individuals of a species and remain in use for many generations. Undoubtedly many condor chicks have been born in that nest; fortunately, the site is located within a national park,” says Sergio Lambertucci, a researcher with CONICET and the Universidad Nacional del Comahue. 

Subscribe Today!

Featured Listings in Directory