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Neighbors Aghast After Man Adopts Large Vulture That Visits Tea Parties

Neighbors are in a flap after a man adopted a large vulture that visits local homes and yards — and interrupts tea parties.

Alan Wells, 62, rescued Gilbert the vulture a year ago after the bird was headed for a life at Prague Zoo, which then closed during lockdown.

Gilbert, who has a 5-foot wingspan, now lives at Wells’ home in Somerset in southern England, but regularly flies off to visit locals in their yards.

Alan Wells rescued Gilbert the vulture a year ago after the bird was headed for a life at Prague Zoo, which then closed during lockdown.
Tom Wren/Zenger

The large turkey vulture can fly up to 10 miles, and some neighbors have kicked up a stink.

One described Gilbert as looking like he’s from “the pits of hell,” saying that having it land in the yard was the “scariest experience of my life.”

Wells, who runs Pitcombe Rock Falconry, says Gilbert is harmless, tame, and just “saying hello.”

He said: “When I trained Gilbert a year ago, my intention was to allow him to fly as free as I could.

“The thought of him landing in people’s gardens [yards] never entered my head.

“People have been in the back garden, in their patio, having afternoon tea, and he’s come right up, looking around the table, investigating the crumbs on the floor.

“It’s not every day you get a vulture come and land in your garden.”

Gilbert has a 5-foot wingspan and can fly up to 10 miles.
Tom Wren/Zenger

“My message to those who complain about Gilbert is that he’s inquisitive.

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“I can’t really predict where he’s gonna go. He’ll go quite a distance and come home when he’s finished.

“He’s coming into your gardens because there’s something of interest in there to draw him in.

“That interest isn’t in the small children playing or the small pets, it will be a smell – usually from a dustbin or food waste bin.

“That’s what has drawn him in, but he won’t want a meal.

“He’s fed before he goes out flying, but it’s nice for him to be able to do what he does in the wild – investigate smells.

“As soon as he’s had an investigation and discovered that there’s nothing there for him, he’ll fly away.

“I would say to people that it’s a privilege to have Gilbert in your garden – enjoy him, see a little bit of nature you wouldn’t normally see.”

Alan Wells rescued Gilbert the vulture a year ago after the bird was headed for a life at Prague Zoo, which then closed during lockdown.
Tom Wren/Zenger

“You wouldn’t get this close to a turkey vulture in a zoo or at a wildlife park.

“Don’t feed him, don’t attempt to pick him up, let him do what he wants.

“If he’s being a nuisance, call me and I will collect him; he has a GPS tag, so I know where he is all the time.

“A turkey vulture only eats dead stuff so if your pet, guinea pig, or rabbits are running around your garden, they are perfectly safe.”

Not all the neighbors have been welcoming to the new resident.

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One said: “It’s probably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

“Walk out the front door, turn around, and there’s this creature, almost like it’s come from the pits of hell, and I find out it’s a bird named Gilbert, so it’s quite an exciting experience really.”

Another said: “He’s not pretty, he sits on my bins and frankly, he flutters around and it’s pretty scary.”

Wells runs a falconry at home where he keeps a number of birds of prey, owls, and even a family of ferrets.

He said it was a “golden opportunity” to add a vulture to his falconry, a not-for-profit organization that makes regular trips to schools and offers education visits.

Wells socialized Gilbert with other birds and allowed him to roam free in the falconry, even spending time with his small dog Buster.

Alan Wells runs a falconry at his Somerset, England, home, where he keeps a number of birds of prey, owls, and even a family of ferrets. He said it was a “golden opportunity” to add a vulture to his falconry, a not-for-profit organization that makes regular trips to schools and offers education visits.

“We keep ferrets here, and he’s not interested in them because they’re moving and they’re alive,” Wells said.

“My very small dog Buster, who’s Jack Russell-size, is smaller than a lamb; again, he’s not interested in him.

“He’ll go alongside him and preen him with his beak, and Buster will get up and look at him with distaste and move on.

“His diet consists of day-old chicks, which are male birds supplied by the egg industry; he also enjoys rats, quail, chickens, pheasant, and sometimes lamb.

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“He only eats dead stuff. There are a few vultures within the 22 species in the world that do actually kill their food, but he’s not one of them and he’s not interested in anything that’s that alive.”

Wells said Gilbert hasn’t got sharp talons to do any damage, and added that pets and children aren’t at risk.

Gilbert had been bound for Prague Zoo but when the attraction closed to visitors during the pandemic, he was taken in by Wells.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

Cet article est traduit automatiquement. N’hésitez pas à nous signaler s’il y a des erreurs.

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