Species Data

Class: Aves

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Cathartidae

Scientific Name: Sarcoramphus papa

IUCN Red List status: Least Concern

IUCN Species Range Map



The King Vulture is one of the New World vultures, closely related to Condors. It ranges from southern Mexico to southern Argentina and is the largest and most colourful of the four species of vulture found in Belize. Males and females are identical and nearly the same size with a height of 32 inches and a wingspan of 4 feet.

King vulture chicks are brown, not developing the white body and black tail feathers until a year old. The face is flushed with yellow, rose, and orange and has a distinctive orange and red wattle.





King vultures are carrion feeders, finding carcasses by watching other vultures. Their thick, strong bill and long, thick claws are well adapted for tearing and holding meat. The bare head and neck enables the birds to reach far into carcasses without damaging their feathers.

Adult King vulture credit Programme for Belize


King vultures inhabit tropical lowland forests and nest near to the ground in stumps or downed logs.



Threats and Conservation

Although King Vultures are not endangered  their populations do seem to be in decline. This is due to habitat destruction and the capture of live birds to be sold to zoological gardens around the world.


Protected by the following WLT Projects