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Turkey Vulture "Zack"

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

ORDER: Cathartiformes

FAMILY: Cathartidae


Zack is a Turkey Vulture that came to CFRC in 2014. He was struck by a car as he was cleaning up the streets in Pender County. He sustained bilateral wing fractures and a toe fracture. He also suffered from blindness for several weeks due to a traumatic brain injury and was tube fed for 4 weeks until he could eat on his own. Head injuries often compromise a person’s or animals’ ability to smell, and Turkey Vultures use the sense of smell to locate their food which is why Zack could not find his food while blind to eat it. Zack is fully healed and a healthy happy vulture, although he is unable to fly and therefore not releasable.


Turkey Vultures are Nature’s Turkey vultures act as nature's ultimate garbage collector, recycler, and scavenger using their keen sense of smell and sight to find ripe carcasses. Vultures do not usually kill their food; they eat animals that die from disease, natural causes, or are roadkill from car collisions. They play an important role in our environment by cleaning disease, which keeps animals and people from getting sick. They are large dark birds with long, broad wings. Bigger than other raptors except eagles and condors, they have long "fingers" at their wingtips and long tails that extend past their toe tips in flight. When soaring, Turkey Vultures hold their wings slightly raised, making a ‘V’ when seen head-on and are unsteady soarers. Their teetering flight with very few wingbeats is characteristic. Look for them gliding relatively low to the ground, sniffing for carrion, or else riding thermals up to higher vantage points. They may soar in small groups and roost in larger numbers. You may also see them on the ground in small groups, huddled around roadkill or dumpsters.


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