Irene Lev has always had a soft heart for birds, and she has never shied away from rescuing and rehabilitating them. But her love of birds was put to the test in April when she saw two baby vultures on her land.
Lev told The Dodo, “I had never had any type of encounter with these birds and, like the great majority of people, I despised their look and the fact that they were scavengers.” “Although, in my heart, I knew exactly what they were for.”
Vultures have a bad reputation for being bald, ugly, filthy, and vicious. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as Lev would soon discover.
Lev didn’t want to disturb the baby vultures in case their mother was close, but after one of the chicks passed, she began regularly monitoring the surviving bird.
“I was keeping an eye on her to see if the mom bird was feeding her,” Lev explained. “She made hissing noises every time I approached her, so I left her alone. But, every day, I checked on her and saw that the mom bird never came by.”
The juvenile vulture approached the house after a few days and even got inside, scaring Lev and her fiancé. That’s when she realized she couldn’t just stand by and do nothing to aid the tiny bird.
“I started thinking about why this infant came inside the house, and I thought she had to be hungry or thirsty,” Lev said. “Even after I gave her tuna, she ventured to approach me. I realized she was thirsty after that. I offered her some water, and she drank practically the entire bowl.”
The vulture would appear in Lev’s garden whenever she was hungry, and Lev would make sure to set a saucer of water out particularly for her.
The bird was given the name Gerar by Lev, and the two established an extraordinary relationship.
Lev explained, “She would literally follow me around like a pet.” “She was drawn to me and would spend hours sitting on the pergola near me. She would follow me around anywhere – she would recognize me when I called her and take a flight to be near me.”
Gerar grew up and became more independent as the months passed. Until one day, the bird flew away and didn’t return for dinner. While Lev was disappointed to see her leave, she is confident that her buddy hasn’t gone too far.
“I assume she flies over on a regular basis since there is usually this lovely vulture surrounding the house,” Lev explained.
The little chick may be on her own now, but she has left an indelible mark on not just Lev, but also his friends and family.
“She became kind of a celebrity among my friends, and the remarkable thing was that most people began to perceive [vultures] in a new light,” Lev added. “Not as ‘ugly’ birds, but as magnificent and elegant!” exclaims the narrator.
“I wanted to get people to look past their preconceptions, and I think I succeeded,” she said.