McCaffery the turkey vulture

turkey vulture Admission Date: 6 January 2018
Outcome: Released 21 August 2018 at SOAR
Location of Rescue: Near McCaffery's Dolce Vita & Twin Springs Bakery, Decorah, IA
Cause of Admission / Condition: Grounded, not flying
Patient Status: Patient Archive, Success Stories

So… what do you do when you’re at an event and Winneshiek County Dispatch calls with a report of a turkey vulture needing assistance outside of Decorah?? First, you wonder if it is really a turkey vulture… then you call a falconer you know in that area (who is also on the Raptor Resource Project board). Unfortunately, he was working, but the call for assistance made it’s way to John Howe, director for Raptor Resource Project, who just happened to be in Decorah. John call Kay and agreed to go look for the vulture.

Kay and Linette were still a bit in disbelief that John was going to find a vulture. An avid birder, also at the Clinton Bald Eagle Day event, recalled a turkey vulture being recorded on a Christmas Bird Count in Clayton County (kitty-korner from Winneshiek), so was a possibility.

John texted that he had the vulture. Now what? Linette said to Kay, “Call my husband.”

Long story short… husband (Roger) with vulture and Linette arrived back home at about the same time. Roger reported that as vulture warmed, he (?) became more active. Thank goodness for stew meat, lactated ringers, and Nutrical (note to self Linette… get more Nutrical)!

Notice that McCaffery does not yet have the red head of an adult. Kay said that McCaffery is a bit thin, but has no fractures. Why was this vulture reported down on the ground for a couple days? Possibly the cold weather, possibly an injury to his shoulder girdle / collarbone area as you can’t feel those fractures.


11 January 2018
Kay reports that McCaffery eats whatever is put in front of him.

14 January 2018
Kay is suspecting that McCaffery had a minor injury at the time he should have been migrating and was managing okay until the extreme cold weather of late made food unavailable and got a little too weak to avoid capture. McCaffery is acting all vulture-like now - hissy and prepared to puke on you at the slightest provocation.

18 January 2018
McCaffery is now in a flight pen!

26 April 2018
McCaffery has dropped all the primary feathers on one wing - may be from frostbite (January).