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American King Vulture

American King Vulture
Photo Information
Copyright: Annick Vanderschelden (vanderschelden) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2553 W: 74 N: 7464] (30441)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-13
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 350D (Digital Rebel XT), 70-200f2.8L IS
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2007-05-20 5:53
Viewed: 3508
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note

Apparently, the genus Sarcorhamphus, which today contains only this species, had a wider distribution in the past. The Kern Vulture (Sarcoramphus kernense) from the Middle Pliocene of SW North America is not well documented and the single fossil humerus known is all but indistinguishable from the King Vulture save by their "greater size and robustness" (Miller, 1931); the large difference in time suggests it might be distinct though and as the fossil is somewhat damaged and rather non-diagnostic, even assignment to genus is not completely certain (Fisher, 1944). During the Late Pleistocene, a species probably assignable to the genus occurred in Peru (Sarcoramphus fisheri), but the supposed King Vulture from Cuba has turned out to be remains of the giant eagle Titanohierax borrasi (Suárez, 2001).

Bartram's "Painted Vulture"
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There has been much speculation about the "Painted Vulture" (Sarcorhamphus sacra or S. papa sacra), a bird described from William Bartram's notes of his travels in Florida during the 1770s. The notes were considerably altered and expanded in the printed edition, possibly by an editor who had seen images of the King Vulture and believed the bird briefly and equivocally described by Bartram to be this species, fleshing out details as he saw fit.

Several researchers have tried to prove the former existence of a King Vulture relative in Florida at this late date, suggesting the population was in the process of extinction and finally disappeared during a cold spell (e.g. Day, 1981). However, Bartram met with his "Painted Vulture" in the area from which later the Northern Crested Caracara was described. This bird was common and conspicuous in Bartram's days, but it is strangely missing from Bartram's notes if the "Painted Vulture" is accepted as a Sarcoramphus.

While the original notes are somewhat ambiguous regarding the appearance of the bird, they do fit a caracara. The birds' behavior as recorded by Bartram is in complete agreement with the caracara's. For example, Bartram observed the birds following wildfires to scavenge for burned insects and box turtles. Such behavior is typical of caracaras, but the large and short-legged King Vultures are not at all well adapted for walking around. That Bartram cannot have missed the caracara but does not mention it is the most damning piece of evidence, however.

Shot in Safaripark Beekse Bergen.

Camera Model
Shooting Date/Time
13/05/2007 14:30:45
Shooting Mode
Aperture-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed )
Av( Aperture Value )
Metering Mode
Evaluative Metering
Exposure Compensation
ISO Speed
98.0 - 280.0mm
Focal Length

Nice Sunday and week ahead...

pirate, Maite, mikou, LordPotty, stevkds, Tamrock has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Great, very sharp. Thanks to pictures like this many people can see something which they never could.

bonjour ANNICK
voici là une super macro, bien joué
les couleurs sont éclatantes, nettes
de superbes détails dans ce joli portrait
félicitations et merci, amicalement

Hi Annick
Zoo pictures have to be perfect as you have plenty of time to prepare yourself: this one is PERFECT: sharpness from almost tip of the bill to behind the eye, perfect compo, background and amazing colours!
Sorry: no critiques, just perfect

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-05-20 6:16]

Hi Annick,
Stunning portrait of the king vulture. Awesome colours and immaculate sharpness. perfect lighting and POV. I like the intensity in those gorgeous eyes and its calm composure. Very nicely composed. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-05-20 6:24]

Hello Annick
A magnificent portrait of this colourful vulture!!
Great sharpness and composition, and very good note too.
My compliments and TFS

Hi Annick,
Very detailed portrait, handsome guy :)
POV is great, as well as the BG, DOF, & close-comp.
I did a quick WS to tone down the highlights.

  • Great 
  • mikou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 869 W: 68 N: 1479] (6093)
  • [2007-05-20 7:46]

Hi Annick.
Wow-very impressive close-up of this creature.Amazing colors as well as light.Superb sharp details on whole his head.His look is almost hypnotic:-)).
Well done,thanks.
Best greetings Milos.

Hi Annick,
This is wonderful picture. This American King Vulture is very colorful. Lovely pov and composition. TFS.

Hi Annick,

You are so good with portraits, and this one is no exception. You have done it perfectly. The detail is very good, and the whole head is in focus, very good DOF. Well done.


What a great portrait Annick.
This is very well done.
Perfect clarity and colour.
Perhaps a touch bright in places,but very good indeed.
Great work.

  • Great 
  • juanjo Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 167 W: 8 N: 27] (1142)
  • [2007-05-20 12:55]

hello Annick

stunnign colours and details in the portrait of this big vulture+
your pov is very good and framing very close too



Hi Annick.
Perfect portrait. Very pure aned sharp shot. Excellent colour presentation. very well done. tfs. Stev

Hi Annick,
Another super photo of this colourful Vulture.
Well done and TFS.

Hello Annick,
This is a fine portrait of a strange looking bird. Details and colors are stunning and I like the way you composed it. They look much better than the Turkey Vulture :) Thanks,

hi annick!
ugly ore beautiful?
something between:)
i like it anyway and
you show it very well
with good quality!
well done!

So expressive bird! Excellent portrait!
TFS and regards,

  • Great 
  • zmey (8)
  • [2007-06-27 17:05]

What a character! Definitely a head-turner! :) Nice portrait-style composition with precise focus on the bird's eye and dimmed background in nice color contrast against the subject. My compliments!


celle ci est incroyable : quel regard, et quelles couleurs !Sans parler de la légendaire netteté de vos clichés. Un régal pour les yeux !
Bonne soirée.

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