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Kinsey

KINSEY – TURKEY VULTURE

Hatch Year: 2009
Arrival to WBS: 2009
Sex: Unknown
Reason for Residence: left wing injury

Kinsey was found as a juvenile vulture with a fractured wing and emaciated. Upon being brought to World Bird Sanctuary it was discovered that the wing fracture had already entirely healed on its own in the wild. The fracture unfortunately healed in a way in which the joint was partially fused shut, and despite treatment with physical therapy, full motion was unable to be restored to the wing and Kinsey was deemed non-releasable due to his inability to fly. Due to the young age at which he was injured, Kinsey was deemed a candidate for educational purposes and remained at World Bird Sanctuary.

Kinsey has since traveled to help educate people on the importance of vultures in the ecosystem, and is well known for his inquisitive and playful nature. He is known by his trainers as the sweetest Turkey Vulture around! During the summer, you may be able to find Kinsey going for regular walks about the property near the Nature Center with his trainers.

SPECIES: TURKEY VULTURE

CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
Turkey Vultures increased in number across North America from 1966 to 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 18 million with 28{b72fa993cab2ff905a1f39ebf084228b79c40acc45be2f64cc4166a48c73e45e} spending some part of the year in the U.S., 9{b72fa993cab2ff905a1f39ebf084228b79c40acc45be2f64cc4166a48c73e45e} in Mexico, and 1{b72fa993cab2ff905a1f39ebf084228b79c40acc45be2f64cc4166a48c73e45e} breeding in Canada. These birds were threatened by side-effects of the pesticide DDT, but today they are among the most common large carnivorous birds in North America. However, because they live on rotting meat, like California Condors, they can fall victim to poisons or lead in dead animals.

Scientific Name: Cathartes aura
Description: Turkey Vultures 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. Turkey Vultures appear black from a distance but up close are dark brown with a featherless red head and pale bill. While most of their body and forewing are dark, the undersides of the flight feathers (along the trailing edge and wingtips) are paler, giving a two-toned appearance.
Sex: both sexes similar in size and color; female may be somewhat larger than male
Age: average in the wild 5 years; in captivity up to 20 years
Length: 24″-28″
Wingspan: 64″-72″
Weight: 3.5-5 lbs
Habitat: Turkey Vultures cruise open areas including mixed farmland, forest, and rangeland. They are particularly noticeable along roadsides and at landfills. At night, they roost in trees, on rocks, and other high secluded spots.
Range: United States and southern Canada during warmer months; some migrate to South America during winter months.

Behavior: Turkey Vultures are majestic but 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. Their large wingspan allows them to soar on thermals for long periods, covering great distances; small groups have been observed performing ritualistic “dances” near breeding season; actual nest not built; will sometimes create a soft layer under the eggs with rotten wood or leaves; two eggs laid on the ground, in a cave, hollow log, or stump; both birds share all nesting duties; incubation is 38-41 days; chicks fed regurgitated food; young fledge at 70-80 days

Diet: almost exclusively carrion; may sometimes eat eggs, rotting fruits and vegetables, or even excrement of sea lions; one of the few birds with a sense of smell, and can detect carrion even under the canopy of forests

Vocalization: low grunts and hisses, audible only at close range

Fun Facts!
– If threatened vultures will vomit on potential predators.

– A vulture’s digestive juices are strong enough to kill any type of bacteria known to man.

– Their “sunning” behavior, sitting on the ground with wings extended allows a photochemical change in the oil on the feathers that provides them with Vitamin D.

– Juvenile Turkey Vultures have dark grey heads, and don’t get the red coloration until between 1-2 years of age.

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