Where at the Zoo
Body length: 27-32 inches
Wing Span: 4-5.5 feet
Weight: 6 to 8 pounds
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Tropical lowland forests, savannas and grasslands
Where in the World
Mexico, South America
This stunning South American bird is perhaps
the most beautiful of all the vultures. The adult is mostly white
with contrasting black secondary wing coverts, secondaries, primaries,
rump and tail. The neck is yellow and orange with a soft grey
ruff at the base. The ornately wrinkled head is a mixture of yellow,
red, blue, black and purple. The eye is ringed with red, the iris
is white and the pupil black. The beak and fleshy caruncle are
bright orange. Adults are identical.
What They Eat
Like other vultures, the King Vulture is a carrion feeder, relying on mostly mammals including livestock. They appear not to feed on snakes, small rodents or fish.
Where They Live
Found from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, this is a bird of the tropical rainforests and wooded lowlands from sea level up to 3000 feet.
What They Do
This King Vulture is not colonial like
many other vultures. They are seen most often singly or in pairs,
even at a carcass. The King Vulture is an expert glider, it can soar for hours without flapping its wings and from a distance the vulture can appear to be headless while in flight.
How They’re Doing
The King Vulture seems to be relatively
adaptable but does rely on tropical forests for survival. Interestingly,
this bird seems to have disappeared from areas where the Scarlet
Macaw, not a particularly adaptable species, has also declined
Click on an image to enlarge.