New sighting of missing vulture

A VULTURE with a five-foot wingspan was on the loose in the Suffolk countryside last night after vanishing from an owl sanctuary.

Anthony Bond

A VULTURE with a five-foot wingspan was on the loose in the Suffolk countryside last night after vanishing from an owl sanctuary.

Staff at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, at Stonham Barns, were becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of Inca, a Turkey Vulture with a bright red face and red legs.

He was blown off course during a training exercise on Tuesday, and had settled in a tree in a neighbouring field.


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However, efforts to lure him back had proved unsuccessful and yesterday he vanished completely.

There was a sighting reported close to the Mendlesham mast yesterdayafternoon, but that has left staff extremely concerned.

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Maz Robinson, from the sanctuary, said it was worrying because he is moving further away from the sanctuary. “We are now getting concerned,” she said.

“We were not concerned initially because he was in a neighbouring field but now that he has moved further afield we are very worried because he is quite old.

“He is not a danger to the public because he is a very nervous bird. He is one of our display birds and is used to people. People may find him in their garden as he would want human contact.”

Staff are worried because the two-foot tall creature is a scavenger and not a hunter and they fear he may starve to death. He is likely to try and feed on anything that is dead - including rats, rabbits and roadkill. Inca has been at the sanctuary for 14 years.

It is hoped that Inca does not take after Foster - a Ruppell's vulture who escaped from Banham Zoo, near Diss, in 2003. The 15Ib bird, with an 8ft wingspan, flew around 400 miles to the Cornish coast. He was discovered by a mother and child who fed him Hula Hoops until help arrived.

Anyone who thinks they may have seen Inca is urged to call the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary on 01449 711425 or 077151 04534.

FACTFILE

n The part of the Turkey Vulture's brain responsible for processing smells is large compared to other birds - giving it a heightened ability to detect dead animals below a forest canopy.

n It is usually silent but makes a hiss at carcasses, roosts and nests.

n It is most common in the Americas.

n The Turkey Vulture's primary form of defence is regurgitating semi-digested meat.

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