Our Birds: Socrates


A.K.A.: Soc, Old Man

Species: Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Sex: Male

Hatched: 1987

Arrived: 1987

Condition: Wing Amputee (hit by car)

socrates   socrates   socrates   socrates   socrates

His Story

Socrates arrived at the University of Guelph's former Wild Bird Clinic in 1987. He had been hit by a car while feeding on roadkill, and severely broken his left wing. Unable to fly, he had been walking from roadkill to roadkill, and his broken wing was healing upside-down on his back.

At the WBC, veterinarians attempted a first-of-its kind surgery to repair the delicate, hollow bone in Soc's wing. While it initially looked promising, Socrates re-broke the wing during recovery, and the veterinarians could not repair it. The decision was made to amputate.

The WBC staff had become attached to Soc, but there was no place for him to go. One of his veterinarians - Dr. Bruce Hunter - saw an opportunity to use Soc's story to spread the word about impact on wildlife. He began the Wild Bird Clinic Education Program in 1990, the program which eventually became Wild Ontario!

Socrates passed away on December 27, 2015, after over 25 years of teaching people about the natural world (for the announcement of his passing, click here: Announcement: Socrates). While we miss him dearly, we know the incredible reach and impact he had during his time with us, and we strive every day to continue the work he started with Dr. Hunter, all those years ago.

Species Information: Turkey Vulture

Range: United States, southern Canada, Central and South America.

Habitat: Likes open spaces, such as prairie, grassland and farmland. Often forages on roadside.

Diet: Scavenger - will eat any animal, as long as it is already dead!

Fun Fact: Has one of the strongest stomachs in the world - can digest salmonella, E. coli, botulism and anthrax!

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