I’d like to introduce you to our resident Turkey Vulture Victor. Victor came to the Wildlife Sanctuary in September of 2009 as a juvenile who had lost the majority of his right wing. The exact cause of the injury is unknown, but the wing was already in the process of healing itself. So we knew he had the injury for some time. With vultures being scavengers, they do not actively hunt for their prey like a hawk, eagle, or owl would. Instead, vultures prefer carion or already deceased animals such as road kill or other prey left behind by larger carnivores.
Victor gets a varied diet while he lives with us at the Wildlife Sanctuary. Depending on the day, he may eat rats, chicken, or even raw meat like heart, liver, or venison. Vultures are one of the only birds of prey with a highly developed sense of smell, the smell is actually what helps them locate their food. They take in the scent through their large nares, and follow the scent to their meals. Turkey vultures, as you see with Victor, have a “bald” pink colored head. This is an adaptation for them to help prevent the meal from getting on their heads, seeing as they will stick their entire head inside a carcass to retrieve their food.
Victor loves to go for walks outside during the summer! If he could, he would soak up the sunshine all day long. Vultures use the sun’s rays to help kill bacteria on their wings that they may get from feeding. During the winter months, Victor lives indoors as vultures typically migrate south for the winter. So as the weather warms up, be sure to get out and enjoy some sunshine(while practicing social distancing of course), and keep an eye out for Victor’s wild friends soaring high above as they make their return to Wisconsin for the summer! Victor and all his friends here at the Wildlife Sanctuary hope you stay safe, and can’t wait to see everyone when they return!