On July 20, citizens found a young Turkey Vulture by the side of the road in Franklin County, Virginia. There were no adult vultures present, and due to the odd location, they decided to take the bird to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke. The following day, the vulture was transferred to the Wildlife Center for further treatment.
The veterinarians examined the young bird and found that the vulture was bright and alert, though thin. Blood work revealed a clinical lead level of 0.25 ppm – while the vulture wasn’t showing symptoms of lead toxicity, the level was high enough to warrant treatment, particularly since the chick is young and growing. The vulture received fluids as well as its first injectable chelation therapy treatment, to essentially scrub the lead from the bird’s blood. The vulture also started a course of oral chelation therapy medication.
The rehabilitation staff have been treating and feeding the young bird for the past week; the vulture is limited to staff only, to reduce the risk of human-imprinting the young bird. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey estimates that the vulture is likely 40-50 days old; the vulture is likely past the riskiest stage of imprinting on humans, though it could still get too used to seeing people. The rehabilitation staff wear a hat and mask anytime they treat or feed the vulture.
The vulture is being fed two to three times a day; Kelsey notes that the bird has a good appetite and is readily eating on its own. To learn more about vultures, check out Episode 10 of Untamed!