The King Vulture or American King Vulture, Sarcoramphus papa, is the most strikingly colored of the New World vultures.
The King Vulture is native to tropical lowland forests; its range extends from southern Mexico to southern Argentina, and it can be found at heights up to up to 1200 m.
The King Vulture has a yellow fleshy crest (wattle) on its bill, and the bare skin of its head is yellow and red. Its plumage is black and grey, but it has pink and yellow tinges. The eyes are straw-coloured in the adult. It is about 80 cm long.
In behaviour, King Vultures are typical vultures. They feed on carrion, and soar looking for prey, but may also use olfaction to help locate it; however some authors claim that they rely on Turkey Vultures and Condors to sniff out prey, and simply follow them to carcases. Large groups may gather at a suitable carcase. At a carcase, the King Vulture is dominant over other species, but its greater strength means that it will often open carcases that others are then able to exploit.
Male and female King Vultures have no difference in plumage and little in size (i.e. there is little sexual dimorphism). Usually only one egg is laid, and both parents incubate. Chicks have brown plumage, and do not acquire adult coloration until about 18 months of age.
In the hieroglyphics of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization, the King Vulture stands for Cib, the 13th day of the month in the Maya calendar.