Black Vulture #15-2316

Admission Date: 
December 19, 2015
Location of Rescue: 
Albemarle County
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Stuck Under a Fallen Tree
Euthanized December 29, 2015
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On December 19, the Wildlife Center admitted a Black Vulture as patient #15-2316. The vulture was rescued from Albemarle County after a large pine tree fell over and injured two vultures and killed several others. Two vultures (including vulture #15-2316) were brought to the Center; the second vulture (Turkey Vulture #15-2315) was humanely euthanized due to extensive injuries.

The black vulture was in good body condition and had a small superficial abrasion on the left patagium (skin along the wing). The bird was alert during the initial exam but remained sternally recumbent – lying on its keel – when placed in its crate. Radiographs revealed soft tissue damage, and blood work showed mild anemia and low levels of lead. The vulture’s symptoms are consistent with toxicity and/or injuries sustained after the tree fell.

As is typical with vultures, the bird regurgitated several times during handling. Regurgitation can be a defense mechanism or stress response in vultures. It’s possible that the bird inhaled the regurgitated fluid and will need to be monitored for signs of respiratory distress or infection.

Veterinary intern Dr. Dana Franzen began a five-day course of chelation therapy to treat the low lead levels and started the vulture on a course of antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory, and pain medication. The vulture also received subcutaneous fluids to increase hydration.

The staff monitored the vulture during the weekend, and the bird showed signs of increased strength in its legs and wings. Staff will continue to monitor the vulture for signs of distress.

Your special donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Black Vulture. Please help!


December 31, 2015

During the 10 days following admission to the hospital, Black Vulture #15-2316 failed to show significant improvement. The vulture was not eating on its own, still had difficulty breathing, and remained severely ataxic (uncoordinated).

On December 29, veterinary fellow Dr. Helen Ingraham moved the vulture into an outdoor enclosure to test the bird’s ability to walk; the vulture remained ataxic and was unable to use its legs appropriately. Dr. Helen decided to humanely euthanize the vulture that afternoon.

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