King Vulture

King Vulture

This image arrived last week from my friend in the jungles of Costa Rica. King Vultures are so spectacular they look photoshopped (I promise this picture isn’t). Kings weigh up to 8 pounds (3.7 kg), the largest vultures on the western continents, except for condors. That may account for a royal name, though they look to me like Walt Disney characters.

Uncommon in Central America, they have a range extending to Argentina. Since this group lives north of the equator they qualify for our gallery of North American birds.

I read that their sharp senses often find carrion before other scavengers, but their beaks aren’t strong enough to rip open the toughest hides. While they wait for butchers to arrive with sharper tools, they enjoy nibbling eyes for hors d’oeuvres, said to be highly nutritious!

By Roger Gosden

British-born scientist specializing in reproduction & embryology. Career as professor & research director spanned from Cambridge to Cornell's Weill Medical College in NYC. Married to Lucinda Veeck Gosden, embryologist for the first successful IVF team in America. Retired early to Williamsburg, Virginia, to write and recover from 'nature deficit disorder'. Currently a visiting scholar at William & Mary.

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