An African White-backed Vulture egg that fell 15 feet from its nest and landed on the aviary floor was rescued by a quick-thinking member of the Hawk Conservancy Trust staff and placed in an incubator. In a further dramatic twist the chick inside the egg had to be hatched by ‘egg-caesarean’ due to complications during hatching.
The egg was laid in January by a pair of vultures inexperienced as parents. It is thought that the egg had not been deposited centrally in the nest and was accidentally displaced by the birds. Assistant Curator, Jimmy Robinson, who was working in a neighbouring aviary saw the egg fall and immediately took action.
Falconer, Mike Riley, said “this chick is really lucky to have survived. It is fortunate that we have such observant staff, one of whom spotted the egg fall, and a fully equipped Bird of Prey Hospital on site, where the egg was placed in an incubator. We were also fortunate to have Geoff Masson,
Livestock Manager from Paultons Park, on hand to act as ‘midwife’. Geoff has decades of experience with rearing incubator-hatched chicks of all species and has advised me throughout the process of incubation, hatching and rearing.”
The egg hatched on the 7th of March but the chick had to be assisted because it was experiencing difficulty hatching and staff feared it would become distressed and exhausted. Geoff Masson supervised an assisted egg hatching that lasted four days. The vulture chick, which now weighs 3 kilos, is currently being hand-reared by Mike. It will be on public display from about 10 weeks old and will eventually become a member of the flying demonstration team.