Royal vulture is king among vultures

Royal vulture is king among vultures
Royal vulture is king among vultures

The king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) is a large bird of prey from the American vulture family. This is the real king of vultures, fairly large birds that live in Central and South America. It lives mainly in tropical lowland forests stretching from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. It is the only surviving member of the genus Sarcoramphus.

vulture royal

What does a royal vulture look like

The vulture king has a very bright appearance, which distinguishes him from his vulture relatives. The plumage is largely white, but also has a slight pinkish-yellow tinge. The tail and wingtips are darker and contrast with the bright body of the bird. The gray feathers of the vulture also cover the neck with a wide belt. There are no feathers on the head and upper neck, the skin is red. Cheeks and skin around the beak are decorated with multi-colored spots - white, purple and orange. A distinctive feature of the king vulture is a skin swelling on the nose. Its beak is reddish, thick and strong. It ends with a hooked tip and a sharp cutting edge.hem.

The bird has wide wings and a short, wide and square tail. His eyes are straw-colored, they are characterized by very sharp vision. Unlike some vultures, the king vulture does not have eyelashes. The legs have thick and long claws. Vultures of this species are not characterized by sexual dimorphism, individuals of such kings are very similar to each other, differ only in size, the female is slightly smaller than the male. The total length is 67-81 cm, its wingspan is 1.2-2 meters. Its weight ranges from 2.7-4.5 kilograms.

royal vulture photo

Distribution and habitats

The king vulture, whose photo you can see here, lives in about 14 million square kilometers between southern Mexico and northern Argentina. In South America, it lives west of the Andes, with the exception of western Ecuador, as well as northwest Colombia and northwest Venezuela. The bird mainly lives in pristine tropical lowland forests, as well as savannahs and grasslands. The vulture can often be seen near a swamp or swampy area in the forest.

Rainforests are preferred by these vultures because they are a refuge for many mammals, as well as birds that feed on predators. Royal vultures clear the forests of carrion in this way, usually from medium and large mammals.

Features of behavior

Royal vultures can sometimes stand for several hours without flapping their wings. While in flight its wings form a plane with slightly raised tips, and withdistances the fingerboard may appear headless. Its wingspan is deep and strong. Despite its size and bright colors, this predator is quite inconspicuous, especially when hiding in trees. While at rest, he keeps his head down, but at the same time he can suddenly and abruptly rush forward if he suddenly notices prey.

king vulture bird

Royal vultures live alone or in small family groups. However, they can also gather in large flocks near the carcass while eating. The life expectancy of these birds in captivity is noted as 30 years, although how long they live in the wild is unknown. This vulture usually defecates on its feet while eating to cool down its body temperature. Despite their formidable appearance and large dimensions, vultures are relatively non-aggressive. At the same time, they have practically no vocal apparatus, although this bird can make low croaking and wheezing sounds.

Features of food

The king vulture is a bird that feeds exclusively on carrion and, unlike some of its brethren, does not kill sick or dying animals for food. He often eats fish stranded along the riverbank.

Although he has keen eyesight that can help him find food, there are several theories as to how he finds carrion. Some claim that he uses his sense of smell to find animal corpses. Others argue that this is not a sense of smell, but sharp vision. Still others prefer to think that vultures simply follow their fellows, wholucky to be the first to discover the food.

what does a king vulture look like

Royal vultures mainly feed on carrion in the forest. As soon as they find a carcass, they crowd out other vultures due to their large size and strength. Using its beak, the bird makes an initial cut in a fresh carcass. This allows the smaller and weaker vultures, which are unable to rip apart their prey on their own, to gain access to food. Vultures tend to only eat skin and tissue. But sometimes they even eat bones.


Puberty in these birds comes to four or five years. Vultures have quite complex courtship tactics. The pair walk in a circle next to each other on the ground, flapping their wings and making loud wheezing and noises. During mating, they are also characterized by snorting sounds. Females usually lay one white egg in their nest in a hollow in a tree. To scare away potential predators, nests of vultures exude a fetid odor. Both parents incubate the egg for 32 to 38 days until the chick hatches. If the egg is lost, then after about six weeks, the female can lay a new one. Young chicks are very helpless at birth. They are born without feathers, but they have a few black feathers in a couple of days. After birth, the chicks are fed with meat brought in the claws. But not everyone survives to maturity - royal vultures have a habit of killing their chicks.

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