Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“A bird in there? The golden eagle is still inside?” Hearing this, Li Du was stunned, then hurriedly rushed into the cave.
Birds do not resist smoke, and even a little smoke could kill them. Now the hole was filled with smoke. The bird was probably dead already.
One of the main goals of Li Du was to save the captured golden eagles. If the golden eagles died because of him, he would lose more than he gained.
Below the mouth of the cave, the fire was extinguished. The smoke had no source anymore, so it would not continue. The smoke in the cave had begun to dissipate.
Li Du held his nose to look for the bird.
The cave was quite large, with an area of three or four hundred square meters, and as high as three or four meters in the deepest part of the cave. Even hundreds of people could stay there if they squeezed a little.
Some cages were placed in the middle of the cave and covered with damp cloths, which were supposed to keep the birds quiet by maintaining high humidity. Luckily, this prevented the smoke from getting to the birds.
Li Du opened the cage. The golden eagle, which had been caught in the afternoon, was fluttering about in the largest cage. It tried to peck Li Du when the cloth covering its cage was pulled off.
Next to it was a slightly smaller cage. Li Du pulled back the wet cloth to reveal a large bird he had never seen before.
The bird did not look well. Its feathers were gray and looked dull. It had a large fleshy mass on its forehead, a naked, hairless neck, and a circle of white feathers at the base of the neck, which made it look like a plucked rooster.
Seeing this bird’s appearance, Li Du said to himself, “Damn, it doesn’t look too attractive.”
Unlike the golden eagle, this one looked apathetic and did not try to attack him. Maybe it was listless due to the smoke.
Seeing this, Li Du hurriedly dragged the two cages out.
Outside in the fresh wind and rain, the spirit of the golden eagle became even more ferocious.
Li Du dragged the cage to a higher place. He opened the wire door and the eagle hurried to get out. When it was free, it flapped its wings and flew up to the sky.
“The king of the North American sky!” A bunch of people could not help but exclaim.
When the poachers discovered that the golden eagle had been set free, a big man cried sadly, “Do you know how much money such a bird could fetch?”
Godzilla stuffed the poacher into a cage and said, “Here, you stay in there and we’ll sell you.”
To keep the raptors alive, the cage was made so large that it was more than two meters long and wide and a meter and a half high. Two people could fit into it without any problem.
Li Du opened the other cage. Instead of rushing out, the big bird shrank back into the corner, looking like someone from a battered women’s shelter.
Ah Meow perked up, staring with his bright eyes into the cage. Li Du took him by the back of the neck and shoved him aside. “Go and play, do not bother the poor creature. Brother Wolf, what kind of bird is this? Kind of like a vulture?”
“Should be a condor,” Brother Wolf said.
“Like the California condor?” asked Li Du.
Brother Wolf said, “Their relationship is very close. You probably know it by the name of Andean Condor.”
The name struck Li Du. “This is the Andean condor? Isn’t it a bit small?”
Of course, he had heard of this bird. It was the most famous bird of prey in South America, with a body length of 130 centimeters, a weight of 10 kilograms and a wingspan of more than 3 meters, making it the largest bird in the world!
As far as he knew, the Andean condor, with its majestic black plumage and its bright red naked face and neck, was revered by native Andean people as the soul of their civilization, a symbol of divine power.
Listening to Li Du’s question, Brother Wolf said, “That’s because it is still a baby bird.”
Seeing that it was no smaller than the golden eagle, Li Du was amazed. “It is still a baby?”
Brother Wolf said, “Young Andean condors grow very fast, and in a few months they reach about the same size as adults. However, their hunting and flying abilities are still developing. I’m afraid this bird has only been hatched three or four months ago, so it can’t fly yet.”
As if to match his words, the bird flapped its wings weakly, and its head drooped sadly.
“Where did you steal this bird? Andean condors are not native to this area, are they?” Li Du demanded to know, turning to the group of poachers.
The Andean condor, also known as the South American condor, was native to South America and was most common in Peru and Argentina.
It was illegal to capture Andean eagles in any country, and many countries in South America, such as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador, regarded it as their national bird and featured it on their flag or emblem.
The poacher said in a mournful face, “No, no, we caught it in the Appalachian Mountains. Condors live in the United States as well. In 1988, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department carried out an experimental reintroduction. Captive-bred Andean California condors were released to the wild in Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia, and then some were also released in the wild in North America.”
Li Du said coldly, “You do know a lot. Good cooperation, go aside.”
The Andean condor was sometimes found in both the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains, but this was particularly rare.
Although this bird likes to live in the rock wall at an altitude of 3,000 to 5,000 meters, it is mainly active in the vast grassland and mountainous areas up to 5,000 meters above sea level. They like areas with open views and no forests, such as rocks, mountains, high altitude deserts, etc., to search for edible animal carcasses from the air.
This is a very powerful bird of prey, extremely good at flying long distances. Sometimes they set out in the early morning and travel two or three hundred kilometers a day.
Especially in mountainous areas, their ability to fly is remarkable. The Andean condor can rise with the mountain updraught and silently fly over gullies and rivers.
However, this particular bird could not fly. Li Du opened the cage to let it out, but the bird shrank its head into its body and stayed in the back of the cage, refusing to come out.
Brother Wolf said, “It’s still too young. These bastards must have dug out a nest of an Andean condor, stolen the bird, and frightened or hurt it in the process. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so timid.”