Turkey Vultures

Appearance 

Head and upper neck have no feathers, with red wrinkled skin and short black hair covering it. The bill has a yellowish-white tip. Feathers around the neck are full and rounded, feathers are a blackish-brown color. Feet are yellow-ish with black claws. Average weight full grown is 6.5 pounds.

Behavior

Gregarious.

Diet

Fresh carrion, sometimes decaying vegetable matter, insects, or live fish. Will devour the young/eggs of other birds. Finds carrion by flying over open/partly wooded country. Can also locate carrion by odor.

Habitat

Common in open areas such as roadsides, suburbs, fields, and food sources such as landfills and construction sites. At night they roost on poles, dead trees, etc.

Nesting

Nests are in sheltered areas, such as inside hollow logs, under rocks, in cave, in old buildings, etc. Very little nest built so eggs on ground/debris. 1-2 eggs/nest, 1 brood/season.

Migration

Year round in southern US, but northern birds migrate long distances, some to South America. Migration happens in flocks.

 

 Issues caused by turkey vultures:

Property damage

  • feces and vomit accumulates on roofs of houses/offices/communication towers/electrical transmission structures, potentially causing power outages
  • can white wash/bleach surfaces and stink of ammonia

Health/safety

  • droppings near homes and water sources

Concentrated populations can be harmful to airplanes

 

How to manage issues with turkey vultures:

Sound/light to disperse birds as they return to roost for the night

  • propane cannons, pyrotechnics, lasers etc. 

Vulture taxidermic effigy

Remove attractants like garbage, or enclose it

Electric shock track

Tree shock

Sprinklers

Rotating cylinder

Bird spikes 

 

Sources: The Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird guide,  Human Society of the United States, Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management