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King Vulture - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 15:44, 16 January 2023 by Deliatodd-18346 (talk | contribs) (→‎External Links: New combined GSearch. GSearch checked template. Video links deleted as no longer available)
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Sarcoramphus papa
Photo © by AdamRiley
Location: Surama, Guyana, 15 November 2011


Juvenile on right with adult
Photo © by Yeray
King Vulture Falls, Belize, 9 January 2014

Length: 71-81 cm(28-32")
Adult: plumage is extensively white with black flight and tail feathers. Head is orange, brown, and red, legs are gray, and eyes are white.
Juvenile: plumage dark gray to black (notice absence of shiny to white areas in the underside of the wing), but notice the white eye.

Similar species

Photo © by Pitter
Chocó Dept., Colombia

Wood Stork has long neck and legs. Juvenile may be confused with other dark Vultures from the Americas which usually have dark eyes and pale areas in their underwings.


Photo © by Yeray
Rainforest, Belize, 1 July 2013

Central and South America. Breeds in southern Mexico from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Chiapas and the lower Yucatan Peninsula, rarely recorded in Sinaloa, Puebla and Veracruz. Occurs south through Central America and in South America from Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad south to south-west Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and northern Argentina.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Lowland mature forest, often hunting over adjacent grasslands and along rivers.



No actual nest. A single rough-shelled white egg is laid in the hollow of a tree stump or at the base of a spiny palm, or in a crevice in a cliff. Both sexes incubate for 50-58 days. The chick fledges at 130 days after hatching.


Strictly carrion, mostly medium-sized or larger mammals, but also on large fish, snakes, or birds.


Guttural grunts and whistling hisses in courtship; also low croaks and bill-snapping.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Holste, M., J. M. Ruth, and J. C. Eitniear (2014). King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.kinvul1.01
  3. Houston, D., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52944 on 2 January 2019).
  4. Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 2 Jan. 2019

Recommended Citation

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