Turkey vulture has pureed rabbit birthday cake

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WALNUT CREEK – What do you get a middle-aged turkey vulture for her birthday?

Rachael Cross, an animal keeper at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, fashioned a decadent “cake” from puréed rabbit entrails — complete with a watermelon topper meal worm sprinkles — for Lord Richard, who greets visitors from her perch inside an aviary at the Walnut Creek center’s entrance.

A birthday "cake" for Lord Richard the turkey vulture includes pureed rabbit organs and a watermelon topper.
A birthday “cake” for Lord Richard the turkey vulture includes pureed rabbit organs and a watermelon topper. (Courtesy of Lindsay Wildlife Experience)

At 43 years old, Lord Richard is believed by Lindsay staff to be the oldest living turkey vulture in captivity.

Last week, the wildlife center threw a lavish birthday bash for the Gen X bird, that included story time, games and arts and craft projects.

Lord Richard arrived at the Lindsay in 1974 from the Randall Museum in San Francisco. Because people had hatched the large bird and raised her as a pet, she would not socialize with other turkey vultures and could not be released in the wild.

For many years, Lord Richard harbored a secret.

Unlike other bird species, whose male and female members can be distinguished based on size and coloring, all turkey vultures look alike. The folks at the Lindsay believed Lord Richard was a male, thus the quirky name.

Boy, were they wrong. In 1980, Richard laid an egg. But her incongruous name lived on.



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