California's condors aren't the only ones in trouble

Like its California cousin, the Andean condor could soon face extinction if steps are not taken quickly to preserve the species.

Just a few thousand of these massive birds remain. According to a report from McClatchy Newspapers, the Andean condor is "virtually extinct" in Venezuela and "highly endangered" in Colombia and Ecuador. There are only 150 birds estimated to live in the three countries combined.

The birds are doing best in Chile and Argentina, where their population stands at about 2,000. But even there, man-made threats still endanger the condor's future. Growing human populations are not only squeezing out the condors, they are also squeezing out pumas and other predators. Since condors are carrion-eaters, this lack of other predators means they have fewer leftovers on which to dine.

Many Andean condors have resorted to eating trash when other food is not available. That's hardly the safest food source.

According to the IUCN Red List, which lists the condor as "nearly threatened," the species is "clearly adapted for exceptionally low mortality and reproductive output, and is therefore highly vulnerable to human persecution."

Still, conservationists have hope, and point to the success in protecting the California condor as an example of how the South American species can survive.