The Scary-Looking Turkey Vulture is Coming to a Town Near You


October 17, 2014

If you haven’t seen a turkey vulture yet, brace yourself. They’re on their way to your town. They’ve been spotted from southern Canada to the southern tip of South America. Globally, there are more than 4.5 million turkey vultures, and most live in the United States.

Turkey vultures (also called turkey buzzards) are not pretty birds. In fact, they’re quite scary looking and can be intimidating in full flight. They feed on decaying flesh of dead animals, have a keen sense of smell and are very large relative to other birds. These large birds can see and smell their food from far away.

Turkey vultures have a unique form of self-defense, which uses the foul smell of regurgitated, partially digested meat to keep predators away from their nests. Those predators include raccoons, fox, opossum, and various types of eagles and green horned owls.

Turkey vultures are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. If you capture, harm or kill a turkey vulture, you might be fined as much as $15,000 and face up to six months in prison.
It’s quite common to find turkey vultures in residential neighborhoods, roosting on rooftops of homes. They often are comfortable near the top of exterior chimneys for warmth during the winter. At commercial accounts they’re often found walking around in corporate park settings. Billboards and cell phone towers are popular roosts.

Control strategies might include a flat or electric shock track, electrified fencing, fogging agents (delivered via a fogger or thermal fogger), grid wire systems over rooftops and audio system deterrents.

Stuart Aust is the President and CEO of Bird Doctor Nationwide. Contact him at


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