King vulture

Central Mexico to northern Argentina
Savanna and tropical forest
27 to 32 inches long; wingspan: 4 to 5 feet
White, down-covered chick hatches after 38 days
King vultures may get their name from a Mayan legend that said these birds were messengers between humans and the gods—and should be thought of as kings.
Following the Crowd



How do king vultures find food? By watching where other vultures gather! Some types of vultures are able to smell a rotting carcassA dead body. Tasmanian devils and vultures are some of the many animals that feed on a carcass., and that draws them to their meal. Scientists believe that king vultures don’t have a good sense of smell—so instead of following their nose, they follow their eyes.


Even though other vultures may be gathered, king vultures often get some of the first bites. That’s because their strong beaks are able to break through skin that other vultures cannot.


Adult king vultures are easy to spot because of the colorful skin on their face and head. Although king vulture chicks begin to fly when they are about three months old, they don’t get their beautiful adult colors until they are more than four years old.