Image Source: https://www.mlive.com/
A young turkey vulture can now come and go from the Detroit Zoo as it pleases after the Zoo nursed it back to health.
The turkey vulture was found trapped in a stairwell at a golf course in Huntington Woods. No nest was found after a search and there was no sign the parents were nearby. So once it was determined the animal was on its own, Detroit Zoo staff stepped in.
“When we rescued the bird, we noticed that its flight feathers had not completely grown in,” said Bonnie Van Dam, associate bird curator for the Detroit Zoological Society. “We believe the bird left the nest prematurely and didn’t have the flight capability to return to it.”
With permission from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Detroit Zoo staff provided the turkey vulture with nourishment for several days in a habitat in the Zoo’s African Forest. This habitat is also a spot where wild turkey vultures often roost and share food with the Zoo’s vultures.
Once the rescued turkey vulture was healthy and strong enough to fly on its own, it simply flew away and joined its friends in the wild who often frequent the zoo.
“We noticed that the vulture kept getting higher up onto the perches each day,” said Van Dam. “One day, the bird was gone, and that’s exactly what we wanted to happen.”
The Zoo says there are about 25 wild turkey vultures who stay around the Detroit Zoo throughout the winter, hanging out at Pierson Lake. The zoo believes the rescued animal’s parents are among this group.
“We are confident this bird’s parents frequent the Zoo, and we hope they have reunited,” said Van Dam.
Turkey vultures are abundant throughout Michigan. The birds are critical to the environment, because they are scavengers and have strong stomachs to break down rotting carcasses. Unlike other vultures, turkey vultures have a good sense of smell, which they use to find food.
While this rescued vulture does not live at The Detroit zoo, there is one rehabilitated turkey vulture which does live in the habitat with the flamingos. It is unable to fly due to its injuries. There are also other species of vultures which live at the Zoo.