The King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) is a big bird found in Central and South America. It belongs to the New World Vulture family called Cathartidae. This vulture lives mostly in tropical forests from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. It is the only vulture still alive from the Sarcoramphus group, but there have been vultures found from this group in fossils.
The King Vulture is big and mostly white, with gray to black feathers around its neck, wings, and tail. Its head and neck are without feathers, and the skin color can be yellow, orange, blue, purple, or red. One way to easily recognize a King Vulture is by the orange fleshy growth on its beak. This vulture is a scavenger and is often the first to find and start eating a dead animal. It also pushes smaller vultures away from a food source. Normally King Vultures can live for up to 30 years in captivity.
The king vulture is the biggest type from the New World, not counting the two species of condors. It is 26 to 32 inches long and has a 4 to 7 feet wingspan. It weighs between 6 and 10 pounds. The king vulture is impressive, with mostly white feathers and a light pinkish-yellow color. Its wings, tail, and neck feathers are dark gray to black, which makes it stand out.
The head and neck of the bird have no feathers. The skin is red and purple on the head, bright orange on the neck, and yellow on the throat. The skin on the head is wrinkled, and there is a golden crest on top of the bird’s orange and black beak. This crest doesn’t fully grow until the bird is four years old.