Detroit Zoo staff rescues turkey vulture, joins wild vultures

The bird was taken to the African Forest habitat where it was provided care

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A young turkey vulture was given a second chance after Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) staff rescued the bird found trapped in a stairwell on a golf course in Huntington Woods, zoo officials said Monday.

DZS staff were unable to find signs of a parent nearby and determined the bird was on its own. They brought the bird to the zoo’s African Forest to provide care with permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wild turkey vultures are often spotted near the habitat roosting and sharing food with zoo vultures.

When the bird was well enough, it joined the other wild turkey vultures.

“When we rescued the bird, we noticed that its flight feathers had not completely grown in,” said Bonnie Van Dam, DZS associate bird curator. “We believe the bird left the nest prematurely and didn’t have the flight capability to return to it.”

A turkey vulture was rescued by Detroit Zoological Society staff
A turkey vulture was rescued by Detroit Zoological Society staff (Detroit Zoological Society)

“We noticed that the vulture kept getting higher up onto the perches each day,” Van Dam later added. “One day, the bird was gone, and that’s exactly what we wanted to happen.”

Approximately 25 wild turkey vultures linger around the zoo throughout the winter season. The birds are also located at Pierson Lake, where zoo officials believe the young bird’s parents may be. Van Dam said staff believes the bird’s parents frequent the zoo and “we hope they have reunited.”

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