A turkey vulture is a gigantic bird with brownish red plumage. It has a bald head and neck, partly feathered wings, and short, broad beak. It is a common bird that can be found all over North America.
These birds are scavengers, meaning they eat dead animals and other things that have died. They will eat just about anything and can be found in large numbers at landfills. Because of their lack of hygiene, they are also known as “nature’s dustbin”.
Turkey vultures have developed a few adaptations that allow them to survive on such an unappealing diet: first, because these birds do not sweat so much, they do not need to clean themselves. Second, because their sense of smell is so dulled from the dead things that they eat, many birds have been able to adapt and grow a smaller olfactory bulb in their brains which helps them get rid of toxins faster.
These birds are very beneficial for nature as well though: turkey vultures help to get rid of the dead animals that would otherwise carry disease.
If you have a turkey vulture problem on your property, there are several ways in which you can try to solve this issue, which we are going to see in this article.
Why Get Rid of Turkey Vultures
Why are turkey vultures considered a nuisance? There may be several reasons for this.
- First, they defecate on the property that has their nest, which can cause damage if not cleaned up quickly enough or thoroughly enough. This is also where diseases and viruses can spread from other birds who have died nearby. Their feces contain bacteria and microbes which can spread salmonella and toxoplasmosis.
- Second, turkey vultures eat dead animals around your property, which you may find disgusting or disturbing. This is also a health concern if the animal was sick before it died: while the bird’s digestive system has adapted to get rid of toxins quickly, this does not mean that there are no risks from eating these kinds of animals.
- Third, they can also have a tremendous impact on your property’s security system if the birds decide to set up camp in trees with motion sensors or other similar devices. Because turkey vultures fly so low when searching for food and land, often near where humans live, they trigger many alarm systems when they get too close.
Plus, having vultures circle around your head is unnerving. When they do it, it means they are feeling death coming. It’s ominous and unsettling.
How to Get Rid of Turkey Vultures
We are going to see some ways in which you can deter turkey vultures from your property, depending on what issue is causing them most problems:
Use Loud Noises
As you could guess, an animal that feasts on others’ carcass is not really a courageous one. They are very shy birds that dislike loud noises and will be easily scared by this. So, you can opt for a motion sensor-based alarm that sets off when they come too close. Or, simply place some noisemakers around your property’s trees. This will deter them from building their nest in your garden.
You should also make sure that these noisemakers are loud enough to scare the birds away, for example, by using a megaphone.
Alternatively, you can use a propane cannon. These are great if you have lots of land, and need something with a long range.
Scare Them Away with Fake Animals
You can also use fake animals as decoys: turkey vultures dislike these kinds of things and will be terrified if they see them around their territory. You should place some stuffed animals in the trees where they like to land and roost, as well as fake owls on posts or near entrances.
This can also be a suitable solution if there are motion sensors that have been triggered by vultures too often for your liking.
Editor’s note: Get either fake hawks or fake owls. These are the birds that vultures fear.
Make it Difficult for Them to Land Safely
If you want to discourage turkey vultures from staying on your property for too long, there are various ways in which you can make it difficult for them to land safely. For example, by cutting down trees or branches that they use as landing spots so that the ground is not flat enough and also making sure there are no dead animals around these areas.
You should also consider that they will be less likely to pick your property if there is a more interesting one nearby where they can scavenge for food. For example, if you live in the countryside and have some fields around your home, placing dead animals outside of these areas may mean that vultures keep their distance from your property altogether.
Use CDs or other Reflective Objects
You can also use reflective objects that reflect sunlight to scare turkey vultures away from your property, either by placing them in trees where they like to land or around the areas you want them gone from. They are very sensitive eyesight, so they will be startled by these objects and fly away.
Hang these around trees with twine in strategic places, and you’ll scare away from them for good. Mirrors are also a suitable replacement. Anything that strongly reflects light and can flash the birds’ eyes.
Or just get this. Same effect, easier to use. As long as you have places to stick to it.
Note where they Roost
Another good way to get rid of turkey vultures is by taking note where they like to roost at night. These areas will be the perfect place to set up cameras and traps that you can use in case there are too many or if one becomes a problem.
If they have set up their nest in one of your trees, you can try to use spikes on the branches around where they are nesting but this may not be effective either as it is very difficult for birds like turkey vultures to change their habits and nests once they have chosen somewhere to nest.
Of course, these solutions may not work for everyone, so it’s also important to consider that if you do not want vultures on your property, it might be better for the birds’ safety if they are moved somewhere else. This means that you need to call a professional before taking any actions yourself.
Use Traps or Poison
If they have been eating dead animals on your property and there is a risk of disease, you may need to use traps or poison instead. These methods are not as effective as scaring them off with fake crows/reflective eyes because turkey vultures can be clever birds who will learn how to avoid these traps or poisons after a while. Plus, killing is bad, okay?
Vultures are communal and eat together. This means that poison spreads extremely fast around their flock. Poisoning carcasses is only for strong stomachs, but if you’re dead set on removing vultures from your property, then you can use this method.
Wait for Them to Leave
If all else fails, you can just try to be patient and wait for them to move on. Turkey vultures are not known for staying in one place too long and will probably leave your property if given enough time. Mostly because you’ll run around dead animals eventually…hopefully.
After removing the turkey vultures from your property, it is best practice to limit the number of dead animals on your property by either burying them deep enough or getting rid of the carcasses in some other way. Prevention goes a long way in avoiding having turkey vultures fly around your property.
An Ounce of Prevention: Making the Environment Unattractive for Turkey Vultures
If you want to avoid turkey vultures altogether, the best thing to do is make your property less attractive to them. This means removing things like dead animals or food sources that may attract them in the first place (this includes pet food).
Dispose of your garbage regularly, because if they think there could be food in your trash cans, vultures will make themselves at home. Store your garbage in a plastic container that at least partially neutralizes the smell. And make sure the birds can’t open the container easily.
Avoid putting out food for birds or leaving fruit trees in your yard. If there are no food sources on the property, turkey vultures will have nothing to eat and won’t come around looking for one. This also includes bird feeders, which may be a nice way to get rid of pests, but it will end up attracting vultures who might mistake your bird feeder for an ATM.
If you have fruit trees that turkey vultures love, nets are a great deterrent for them. But be prepared to find bold birds getting stuck in them now and then. Most turkey vultures will look for easier food to pluck. The stubborn ones might try to get through the net, getting themselves stuck. Have a plan to deal with these.
Keeping turkey vultures away from your property is crucial. These birds are unhygienic, as they carry lots of diseases. Plus, their diet isn’t exactly something you want to witness. Having these birds fly around your home feels ominous. They know death is about to occur and are there ready to feast upon a carcass.
Their condition makes them very fearful. When your feeding depends on other things dying, it means you can’t really fight back. They also eat fruit occasionally. If you have lots of fruit trees in your garden, expect to see flocks flying around for their next snack.
Fortunately, there are many low-cost methods that don’t require too much work to set up. The most expensive option—calling a professional—is only for extreme cases, where vultures have been gliding around for weeks.
Prevention is by far the best way of dealing with these birds. Or rather, to never have to deal with them.