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Cathartiformes > Cathartidae

King Vulture

Sarcoramphus papa

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Identification

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Uncommon, large, and spectacular bird of lowland tropical forest, mainly in wilder areas and not around human habitation. Most often seen soaring overhead in mid-late morning, often fairly high up with kettles of Black Vultures; rarely seen perched. Striking adult has a colorful head and neck, piercing white eyes, and mostly white plumage with a black trailing edge to the wings and tail. Immature is blackish overall and lacks the white wing markings of the smaller Black Vulture. Immature develops adult plumage over a few years with white appearing first on the belly and the underside of the wings.

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Learn more about King Vulture from…

Neotropical Birds

Life histories of all species breeding in Mexico, Central America, and South America