Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture occurs from Mexico south to Panama, and in South America from Colombia east to the Guianas, and shouth to Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and Uruguay. In Mexico it occurs north to southern Tamaulipas (Wetmore 1964, Howell and Webb 1995) on the Atlantic slope, and to Oaxaca on the Pacific slope (Binford 1989, Howell and Webb 1995). It does not occur on the Pacific slope of Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986), although it is in the Cauca Valley (Hilty and Brown 1986), and is not reported at all from Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture usually is regarded as resident, but may undertake short distance migrations in parts of its range. Seasonal changes in abundance are reported from Panama (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989) and in Venezuela (Friedmann and Smith 1950), although Hilty (2003) suggested that seasonal differences in abundance in Venezuela required documentation. Koester (1982) noted 1 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture for every 5-10 Turkey Vultures migrating through northern Colombia from September until April. It appeared likely that migratory populations of C. burrovianus also wintered in northern Colombia (Koester 1982).
Possible vagrant to southern Texas (Dresser 1865).