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Doug J | all galleries >> Birds, Birds, Birds >> Non-passeriformes Gallery > King Vulture
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King Vulture

Scientific name: Sarcoramphus papa
Order: Incertae sedis
Family: Cathartidae

The King Vulture is an expert glider, sometimes soaring for hours without flapping its wings. It is non-migratory and generally lives alone or in small family groups. However, it can gather in large groups at a carcass. It is relatively unaggressive at a kill and will normally back down rather than fight.

The King Vulture feeds solely on carrion and, unlike some New World Vultures, is not known to kill sick or dying animals for food. It often eats stranded fish along river banks, but does not come to village refuse dumps for food. Though it has keen eyesight which can help it locate food, there are two theories regarding how it specifically finds carrion. Some argue that it uses its sense of smell to find animal carcasses. Others argue that it does not have a sense of smell, and instead follows the smaller Turkey Vultures and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures, which do have a sense of smell, to a carcass.

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Canon EOS 10D ,Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
1/800s f/6.3 at 280mm (EF 70-200mm + EF 1.4x TC) ISO 200 with Flash full exif

other sizes: small medium original auto
Larry Linton13-Jan-2010 12:37
Superb image of a beautiful subject, Doug. -V-
Raul Quinones10-Jun-2007 16:21
Excellent picture, awesome bird.
Guest 14-Mar-2007 17:45
We saw 4 of these beauties (?!) at great distance at 1000 Foot Falls, Belize last week.
Your photo shows us what we missed! I would like to use it in the illustrated letter we're sending family & friends, and will certainly credit and link you. Thanks so much!
chandrashekhar 09-Dec-2006 07:47
This is actually a best shot yet i had seen in bird gallery.
Guest 18-Sep-2006 17:26
great shot love the bird and the b/ground blur
Guest 23-Jan-2006 00:07
bizarre- looks like a mask!
Guest 27-May-2005 00:17
Love this one. Great colors and the image is nice and crisp.