Amber Joins Open Door

Amber the Turkey Vulture is the newest resident of the Open Door Bird Sanctuary. She joined the team on June 13, and came from the Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) of Antigo, Wis. REGI and founder Marge Gibson are well known for their rehabilitation efforts, especially with eagles and swans.

Amber is an imprint, which means she associates herself with people. That’s ideal for educational programming because she will be easier to train and will be very comfortable with groups of people.

Turkey Vultures soar with wings raised in a “V” and sometimes making wobbly circles. They ride air thermals, using their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. Consummate scavengers, they clean up the countryside with one bite of their sharply hooked bill at a time without mussing a feather on their bald heads.

Turkey Vultures mostly eat mammals but also snack on reptiles, other birds, amphibians, fish, and even invertebrates. They prefer freshly dead animals, but often have to wait for their meal to soften in order to pierce the skin. They are deft foragers, targeting the softest bits first. They are even known to leave aside the scent glands of dead skunks. Thankfully for them, vultures have excellent immune systems, happily feasting on carcasses without contracting botulism, anthrax, cholera or salmonella.

Turkey Vultures are common in Wisconsin. Look for them as they 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. A group of Turkey Vultures is known as a wake.