Living in the rainforests of Central and South America, King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) is the most striking of the New World Vultures. With his black and white plumage and elaborate red-black patterns on his bare skin, King Vulture is the King of the Rainforest. His scientific name (which translates to “the Pope’s fleshy beak”) refers to his regal presence and colorful wattles.
People call Him “King Vulture” because when He appears the other Birds stop feeding and make way for the “King”. The Maya claimed that the other Vultures would not eat until He came down and helped Himself to the eyeballs of the dead. They revered King Vulture because they regarded Him as the conduit to the gods. In fact, the Mayan hieroglyph for Cib, the thirteenth day of their month is King Vulture.
This solitary Bird soars on the rising currents of warm air searching for food. With his incredible keen eyesight and well-developed sense of smell, King Vulture can easily find food in the dense rainforest. Possessing a strong bill with a sharp hook, He can readily rip flesh. Although, He has first choice at feasting, King Vulture uses his stronger bill to pierce the tough animal hide so that the other Vultures can eat as well.
You can learn to have a sense of “Kingship” from King Vulture. Since He has the respect of the other Vultures, look to King Vulture for lessons in leadership. Remember to help those who depend on you.
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