The x-ray revealed bad news: his damaged wing bones had already fused, so his future was grim. He would never be able to fly or soar again, and could not be released.
Despite the bad prognosis, our patient was healthy, strong, and still able to hop and flap up to five feet, making him an excellent candidate for life at a bird sanctuary. Luckily, someone had been waiting a long time for just this opportunity.
A Long Island sanctuary had been searching for a friend for its injured turkey vulture for the past two years. Turkey vultures live in groups or "venues," sometimes numbering up to a hundred individuals, and are happiest when they can roost with others. We immediately took our patient out to Sweetbriar Nature Center and thought ourselves lucky that our vulture could live out the rest of his life in peace with company.
But the story doesn't end there. After more than a year of living at the sanctuary, the Turkey Vulture's enclosure was due for a renovation, so he was temporarily moved into the flight cage, one of the only cages in Long Island big enough to accommodate his six-foot wingspan. To everyone's amazement, he began to fly!