Buzzard roost : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

About 200 yards behind the house along the top of the cliff we have a stand of trees. About six months ago we had a couple of buzzards nest in one of the trees. After the baby buzzards got grown they seemed to roost in the same tree as the nest was in. Every few days I would notice there were a few more. AND NO I DON'T NEED A BATH. I have checked and there is no dead animals around the location. Now there are usually 30 to 40 or more roosting in the trees all day long. Now haveing black birds roosting in your trees can be bad but Buzzards is really getting to be bad. Anyone have a suggestion.

-- David (, December 08, 2001


I know they are not the prettiest birds to look at David, but, they got to make their nests somewhere, and they must like the location because of the cliff right there, they are a heavy bird and a nice drop-off near the nest helps them to get aloft and start flying. Ever see a buzzard try to make a quick take-off from the ground, it takes them quite a while to get aloft.

If it's any consolation, they should be leaving soon for their wintering grounds. Despite their looks, they serve a very necessary purpose, and rumors to the contrary, they do not spread disease of any kind. No more than black birds and ravens anyway.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, December 08, 2001.

A little fireworks about roosting time should take care of it. They will just hunt a quiet place.

-- Mel Kelly (, December 08, 2001.

My suggestion is to be grateful you have them. No, there won;t be any dead animals around that location; the vultures roost where the trees are appropriate, not because of an immediate food source.

I would suggest having a flock of starlings - noisy and detrimental to native passerines - or redwing blackbirds - can be tough on seed crops - would be of concern. But the vultures don't make any noise, and they do an inestimably valuable service in keeping the countryside free of rotting flesh. Watch them fly! They are ungainly to look at, but they're an absolute joy to see soar.

More topical in 2001, family Cathartidae (the New World Vultures, including our three species, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture and California Condor) have the staggeringly astonishing feat of being absolutely unaffected by flesh tainted with botulism, cholera and, yes ANTHRAX! Researchers are at a loss to explain what it is about these animals - though evolutionarily, it makes sense that they've perfected whatever biomechanism it is - that allows them to chomp down on some poor anthrax-felled sheep, and not get sick.

Better still, vulture feces contain no live anthrax, etc., bacteria.

If you do a google-search on "vulture anthrax" or similar, you can look into what I just was relating. I hope this might help you change your mind about these terrific creatures - perhaps you might be able to look on your land as helping your neighborhood out, by hosting the birds.

-- Audie (, December 08, 2001.

Do you have the start of a home-based business here? Rename the property "Buzzard's Roost" and charge admission to watch them? Take or find a few spectacular photos of buzzards soaring, hire a professional photographer to take some photos of your buzzards perching and nesting and grooming and feeding young, and do them up as souvenir postcards? You and your family study up on them so you can answer questions. Invite classes out from the local school so they'll spread the word. Get the local paper to write a story, and see if it can be pushed (along with some of your photos) for publication in bigger papers.

Think about it. They're all part of the web of life, they do an important job, and they're probably here because you have the absolute premier buzzard real-estate available in a long distance (implying that someone else destroyed the previous best spot, or a yuppie bought it up and scared them off with firecrackers, or whatever). At least they're not ferals, like d--med starlings or English sparrows or whatever.

-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (, December 08, 2001.

Buzzards are one of my favorite creatures. Very cool. Very adaptable. Very tough. Kinda plain, no-nonsense, HEY! Wait! Isn't that what us Countrysiders are? Anyway. Maybe they are watching you and are marvelling at your ability to persevere!!

-- Gailann Schrader (, December 08, 2001.

Hey David..............sure you are feeling o.k????? ;>)

-- diane (, December 08, 2001.

To answer some of the replies. One our buzzards are here years round they don't go anywhere to winter, as we are too far south for them to need to. Two a few buzzards are no problem but forty or more begin to stink. If the number grows it is going to be really bad if the weather does not cool off. The temp for the last week or so has been in the high 60's and low 70's. I bought this isolated farm to have piece and quite and not to run a tourist attraction. Good idea if I needed to try to bring in a few extra bucks but I put in my time and invested so I could retire here. If you happen to be in my area in the next few weeks you are welcome to smell a buzzard roost and then decide if you would like one. We are going to give them untill after christmas to leave. We will try scarecrow type things that blow in the wind first then noise makers, then fireworks. Then will see what happens. Really enjoyed the pair rasing their young but 40 or so is just too much. If anyone else has anyideas about how to run them off please advise. Don't intend to use deadly force so thats out. (for now) Thanks David

-- David (, December 08, 2001.

Hereabouts, we call 'em Ozarks Sea Gulls since they are so prevelant and just about as annoying as gulls can be. They tend to flock together in the winter and drift somewhat south of their summer range, but usually are noticed at any time. And they mate for life, I think. They remain in the trees in the morning until their wings have dried from the night dew or worse. They can't fly well with wet wings. And they do serve a purpose in Mother Nature's scheme of things. But they can be a nuisance when roosting. For instance, we were away for an extended time one summer and came home to discover they had taken over the big oak that adjoins our 5,000 square foot fenced garden area. Thirty or so of them. With a summer of droppings that had turned the ground white. So, they had to be "relocated."

I accomplished it with my trusty .22 rifle. I attempted to just scare them off, but buzzards operate with about as much brain as a brick. They would sit and wonder at the sound but not move. So I shot one. It's partner craned its neck and turned its head to see why its buddy went to the ground, but didn't move. We had this nightly exercise for more than a month before they all got the hint. And, reinforcement was necessary about every week or so for several weeks after that. But, nearly a box of .22 long rifle shells later, and sans perhaps a dozen of the 30 in the flock, they have finally moved on to someone else's tree. For now.

Vern M. Marion County, Arkansas

-- Vern M. (, December 08, 2001.

Before you drve them off: it won't be the vultures, but their excrement, that stinks. This might not work, as any bird waste tends to be high in urea, which can burn before it fertilizes, but why not try throwing a fast-growing crop - like annual rye - under their roost, to see if it can't keep up with the job of turning that excrement into greenery. If you can get it to take hold, and as you say you're in a somehwat southerly climate, you might be abel to get the grass to keep ahead of the waste.

Prior poster: each of your killings is a felony offense, and each one is pretty hard to justify. At best, if you're going to conduct yourself that way, you might think twice about mentioning it on an open forum, let alone suggesting others emulate you.

-- Audie (, December 08, 2001.

Are you serious? You can't kill buzzards without repercussions? Around here we have turkey vultures. Are they protected also? Or is it just particular vulture/buzzard species? Interesting. I have found them dead along side the road. I was greatly amused when I found a dead one with a bit of intestine in it's beak - and a dead cat close by (don't get me wrong I like both animals - just struck me funny for some reason). Died happy eating his supper I guess.

-- Gailann Schrader (, December 09, 2001.

The Buzzards are roosting in large trees. Trying to make use of the fertilizer for any type of planting is not going to work. Thanks for the idea though. As far as killing some of them to drive off the others is at this time not open for consideration. But before they make life miserable for me and mine---- Also some one said they taste kinda like chicken if you can get past the smell

-- David (, December 09, 2001.

Gailann: In the United States, "buzzard" is the generic word for one or other of the two species of vulture we have: Turkey or Black. And yes, it is illegal to kill them.

-- Audie (, December 09, 2001.

I really hoped you don't have to resort to killing them David, Audie is right, all raptors are protected in the US. We have always considered it unethical to kill raptors despite their shortcomings ( owls taking chickens, hawks taking peeps, etc.) without the law telling us not to. Raptors are a very special part of nature's plan and allowances have to be made for them, however bad they stink.

Might be worth the money to spread lots of agricultural grade (cheap) lime around under their roost area, will cut down on the smell until the winter rains and dropping temperatures diminish the odor naturally.

Folks in the city and suburbs have the same problem as you, except they deal with hundreds of Canadian Geese, which are protected in most states too, or have a set hunting season for them.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, December 09, 2001.

Buzzard Buzzards everywhere. David we live on the little Red River south of you and they are everywhere. I would suggest you call the Arkansas Game and Fish commission and ask for thier help.Good luck

-- sherry (, December 09, 2001.

There is a nursing home in the town were I live which has about 20 who roost in the tree out front.

-- kathy h (, December 09, 2001.

David: I got to thinking a little last night. If you're game, try this:

Determine if there are two or three limbs that (1) they favor each night and (2) you won't bust *your* limbs trying to approach. I suggest observing over at least a three-evening period.

Vultures have the keenest sense of smell, that we know of, among birds. They use their olfactories in their day job - ie, finding carrion. It's possible they're matched by the procellariformes (seharwaters, petrels, albatross), but that's a different topic.

Now, we already know that what disgusts us - putrid flesh, eau de skunk, and so on - doesn't bother them. But I wonder whether some highly aromatic long-chain esters that are foreign to their environment might be so disruptive to their schnozzes that they'd prefer to move elsewhere?

So here's what I suggest: during the day, when they've moved off, apply to each of the 2 or 3 limbs you've picked out a liberal dose of (1) oil of clove, (2)oil of peppermint, and (3)kerosene or diesel. Use one of these scents per limb, so that you may be able to tell which is effective, if any.

If you can observe their roost upon their evening return, you might be able to notice if such odors cause them any consternation, or outright abandonment.

If you try it, keep us posted!

-- Audie (, December 09, 2001.

Audie's idea is a good one if they are turkey vultures, who have a highy developed sense of smell, but black vultures, the variety common down south, hunt by sight only, they have no well developed sense of smell. From the underside, black vultures have a white patch near the end of their wings, turkey vultures do not.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, December 09, 2001.

Ive heard Black vultures are endangered or nearly so. Turkey vultures are all we have here in NC. As ugly as they are, as putrid as the smell is, and as hardened to death as I am- a vulture made me cry last month... its mate got hit on the road by the car in front of me- the living one swooped down to check things out and I swear that bird looked at me like "Oh god, she's gone." I pulled over- it still stikes me, now, as so utterly sad. I have seen these birds in raptor rehab center in PA- really neat birds. I really really disagree with shooting them, and, to the guy who did: You dope, its like a 10,000 dollar fine PER BIRD. Find a nonviolent solution: I would contact the wild life or conservation officer in your area and see whats what... and remember, those birds have most likely been roosting there since before your pop was born. Or, if they havent- their habitat is being destoyed and they had to go somewhere

-- Kevin in NC (, December 09, 2001.

Absolutely fascinating. I've always admired vultures, too, but never knew all this stuff. Hey, did you know that they're hard to rehab (like if one gets hurt and ends up at a Nature Center or something) because when they're scared or stressed, they projectile vomit?? Yeah, regurgitated roadkill...mmmmmm! Rehabbers have to be very careful when handling these guys.

-- Shannon at Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary (, December 10, 2001.

I think for the Holidaze I should projectile vomit whenever I feel threatened. I think that would liven up the party some.... just thinkin' here in Indiana.... I figure that it would be festive with all the various foods eaten during the holidaze......... right.... I'll leave now...

-- Gailann Schrader (, December 10, 2001.

Ask local Fish & Game to come out & identify so you know for sure what kind of buzzard/vulture you have. And find out if they are protected. They may relocate them for you. The most "just asking" would cost you is a phone call & your time.

Good luck


-- animalfarms (, December 10, 2001.

Gailann!! ROFLMAO

I got to see a rehab turkey vulture once at a kids nature event, he would walk up to the kids and untie their shoes with his beak.

-- Susan (, December 10, 2001.

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