FOR THE BIRDS: Young buzzard finds temporary shelter here



July 18, 2017 - 12:00 AM

“Yeah, he might get in trouble,” the receptionist at Kansas Wildlife and Parks headquarters in Pratt allowed when asked if a story about a local fellow who rescued a turkey buzzard would put him in jeopardy.
According to state law, wild things rescued, from injury or abandonment, must be reported. They then are picked up by a wildlife agent and placed in a refuge. Acquisition or keeping of wild creatures for show and tell or pets must be cleared through the state agency.
That would leave our Allen County Good Samaritan at odds with the state — if the Register were to divulge the person’s name. That won’t be the case, although a good number of folks know who rescued the bird when it was newly hatched, and has been feeding and tending to it.
“I’m kind of a bird man,” our mystery intervenor said.
He saw a buzzard’s nest in a hay barn while the building was being repaired, and noticed one of the tiny vultures had just pecked its way out of an egg. When the mother didn’t return after six or seven days, he retrieved the baby, just before workers likely would have squashed it during their renovation.
At his rural home the little refugee ravenously seized a small chunk of raw hamburger tossed its way.
Since then the bird has grown like the proverbial weed. Five or six weeks old, its white fluffy down is being replaced by feathers on the tips of its wings and tail.
Whether its mother would have plucked the down, its friend doesn’t know, but he does occasionally, a process the youngster seems to enjoy. He — a gender supposition — also has a fondness for the person who feeds him, and likes to get close to his pant legs and shoes, occasionally stroking shoe laces with a hooked beak.
Buzzards are notorious for dining on carrion, the more putrid the better. The young one shuns cooked food. He also is fond of hot-dogs.
Before too long the little vulture, about the size of a smaller breed of chicken, will be able to fly.
Then, he will be returned to where he was born, or where adults congregate, and be given opportunity to be identified by his mother.
That outcome still is up in the air (no pun intended), but at the very least its caretaker thinks the bird will join a flock.

TURKEY BUZZARDS are far from an anomaly hereabouts, and many folks who pay attention to such things think their numbers are greater this year.
They often are seen by the dozens roosting on Iola’s mid-town water tower, and many others like to spend nighttime hours high above the ground on a tower near Humboldt’s Walter Johnson Field.
The beaks being hooked and claws sharp as razors isn’t a mistake of nature. Buzzards can devour their carrion in a matter of seconds.

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