We are thrilled to introduce our newest Avian Ambassador, a female Turkey Vulture! This unique bird was admitted into the rehabilitation program at Raptor Rehab of Kentucky, Inc. near Louisville, KY, in July of 2022. At that time she was only a a few weeks old and had previously been brought into a rural animal control office where she had been unintentionally imprinted. Imprinting on their surroundings is something all raptors do. It’s how they learn what they are, what they eat, who they mate with, and more. The rehab staff realized she would not be able to go back to the wild as a human imprint, so they assessed her for suitability as an ambassador animal. She took to it right away and quickly learned to step to the glove and scale, while showing comfort around people.
September 2nd is International Vulture Day! And, we are celebrating vultures throughout this month at TRC. Many vulture species around the world are declining due to various human impacts. We hope our newest Avian Ambassador will help us teach about the wonders and importance of vultures all over the world. Though we occasionally see them in our rehab clinic, this is the first time Teton Raptor Center has had a vulture on the Avian Ambassador team, and she needs a name! We are asking you, our community, to submit names that will help us tell the incredible story of this bird, Turkey Vultures, and all the other incredible vulture species.
Here are some interesting facts to help inspire creative names!
- Our Turkey Vulture is a female, and they tend to be slightly larger than the males. Her wing span is over 5 feet wide and she weighs about 4.5 pounds.
- Turkey Vultures are easily recognizable with their red colored heads. In flight, they are recognized by their broad, two-toned wings and teetering soaring style.
- They are a species of least concern and the most widespread vulture in the Americas. Their range is actually expanding across North America. Turkey Vultures were historically not commonly found in Jackson Hole but now you can see them regularly throughout the summer months.
- They are almost exclusively scavengers and rarely kill prey, unlike Black Vultures which do occasionally kill their prey.
- Unlike other raptors including other North American vultures, Turkey Vultures have a very well developed olfactory system giving them an excellent sense of smell! They have been shown to be able to find concealed carrion by smell alone.
- They prefer open areas for hunting and forested areas for nesting and roosting. They are often observed roosting communally in large trees.
- They provide a vital ecological service as scavengers.
We hope you will come visit our newest ambassador once she has completed her training. In the mean time, please help us give her a name.