Introducing TRC’s newest educational ambassador: Aura the turkey vulture makes her debut
Melissa Moore
Aura, TRC's new turkey vulture ambassador
Aura, TRC's new turkey vulture ambassador. | Photo by TRC staff

During the summer of 2022, a kind person came across a white and fluffy young bird on the floor of their barn in Ohio. As the bird was obviously too young to care for itself, the woman took the youngster inside her home and began caring for it with the best intentions.

Unfortunately, this fluffy creature had much more complex nutritional and behavioral needs than the woman knew. As the bird grew into a juvenile turkey vulture, the rescuer came to recognize that something seemed wrong and contacted a local Ohio wildlife rehabilitator for help.

The growing turkey vulture was soon transferred to The Raptor Center for evaluation and treatment as initial radiographs (X-rays) showed some severe bone abnormalities. The vulture had a metabolic bone disease and a host of skeletal fractures and deformities. Additionally, this young bird had clearly imprinted on humans, eagerly soliciting attention and food from any person she encountered. Wildlife clinics often hear stories similar to this. A bird or other animal is “rescued” and cared for by well-meaning but unprepared members of the public. Oftentimes, the animal does not require rescue, which may have been true in this instance, as turkey vultures frequently lay their eggs on the ground and don’t build true nests.

Fortunately, this turkey vulture has found a home that can provide the care she needs. She has joined TRC’s ambassador birds and has been named “Aura” (meaning “breeze”) after the scientific name for the species, Cathartes aura.

Aura’s new role in life is to educate folks both on the importance of vultures in the ecosystem and on the proper steps to take if they find a young bird they feel needs help. She has quickly won the hearts of every person who has worked with her, and guests can now see Aura in the Visitor Center at TRC.