The Buzzard Blues

One of the blessings of being an educational bird at VINS is free and instant healthcare from the staff. Sure, it must be great to have a cozy, predator-proof enclosure and daily hunt-free meals, but the medical attention from the rehabilitation staff — who are on-site 7 days a week, 365 days a year — can’t be beat. When staff hear the smallest sneeze, see a runny nare (nostril), or spot a scraped toe, we’re on it!

Recently, staff noticed our educational turkey vulture —
a popular and beloved bird in her 30s who appears in many of our programs — preening excessively at her keel, or breastbone. We took a look and found a wound on her keel about the size of a nickel. We surmise that the bird scraped her chest getting up onto a new perch we recently added to her enclosure, so we’ve taken the perch out and put the turkey vulture into rehab. (Above left, VINS Intern Sarah Sincerbeaux holds the vulture for wound care; below from top down: Wildlife Services Manager Sara Eisenhauer cleans the wound; our turkey vulture on the glove with Wildlife Keeper Meghan Oliver.)

Now, our bird is receiving daily wound care in which we clean the scrape thoroughly, remove dead tissue, and apply topicals to keep the wound infection-free and encourage tissue growth.

Vultures, sometimes called buzzards, are always interesting patients to treat. They are smelly and aggressive, but we love them anyway. Read about a past vulture patient here. Our educational vulture is very familiar the staff here, and while I can’t say she loves wound treatment, she’s a trooper, and has yet to spew on staff.


  1. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I LOVE OG!!! So glad she is still kicking! Feed her a hairless mouse for me.

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