With all the birds that find their way to Maynard, humour is not usually a part of their story. Most birds have suffered an accident as a result of human activities so it’s not a funny time for anyone. However, last summer we got a call about a turkey vulture that was unable to fly so I drove over to see what could be done for the bird. When I arrived at the residence the door was answered by a very large man. I am almost 6 feet tall and this gentleman was towering over me. He was quite concerned about the vulture and took me out to where the bird was. There was a double row of cedars that the bird was hiding in at the edge of the property. The bird could flap it’s wings but could not get off the ground. It was obvious from the way that the cedars were that if I went to one end of the cedars the poor bird would just move to the far end. I would then have to walk around the trees and it would just move back again.
I looked at this giant of a man and asked if he would take a sheet that I had with me and stand at the far end of the row of trees and chase the bird towards me so I could net it. He turned to me and said “he’s not going to hurt me is he?” It was all I could do to keep a straight face as I explained the bird was far more afraid of him and if he just dropped the sheet over it, it would be o.k. The capture was successful with the mans help and I was able to bring the bird back to Maynard. I was chuckling all the way back to Maynard at the idea of this big guy being worried the bird would hurt him. While they aren’t likely to hurt you, the main thing you need to watch out for with Turkey Vultures is that they don’t puke on you. It’s simply a defense mechanism for them, but a smell that is hard to forget. However, the fellow’s concerns about being hurt where legitimate. Some birds could hurt you if you don’t handle them properly, I guess because of our experience with a lot of birds at Maynard we don’t worry about it too much anymore.
Things turned out very well for the vulture with the help of Dr. Trevor Henry and all the wonderful support staff at Blenheim Veterinary Hospital. We got him x-rayed (see below) and discovered that he had a dislocated leg and a broken pelvis, probably from a car accident. After three months care at Maynard we moved the bird to our largest aviary so we could assess his flying ability and give him a chance to build up some strength in his wings. Things progressed well so we released the vulture and watched happily as it flew off to freedom. I still smile when I think of the big guy.
This story was submitted by the Blenheim Veterinary Hospital on behalf of Maynard Avian Rehabilitation Centre. The story itself was written by Rick Siddall. You can find out more about the Maynard Avian Rehabilitation Centre and how you can help injured and orphaned birds at www.maynardrehab.com