One of the world's rarest birds and North America's largest flying land bird, the California condor is a graceful animal when it is gliding high above the canyons and deserts of the American West Coast.
But up close, this bird isn't so photogenic. Its bald head is an adaptation for its lifestyle as a scavenger, since a feathered head would become clotted with blood while the bird feeds on large carrion. The birds gorge themselves so much that they often have to rest for several days after a big meal.
Condors neared the point of extinction in the late 1970s when only a few dozen of the birds survived, according to National Geographic. Scientists started a captive breeding program and as of February 2012, about 213 California condors live in the wild.