Turkey vultures are large, scary-looking birds. They have the distressing habit of moving roadkill and carcasses onto your lawn. They make lots of noise.
They defend themselves by vomiting acidic, partially digested meat from dead animals.In the summer, they cool themselves off by defecating on their own legs.
Turkey vultures are disgusting birds. But they are migratory birds, so it’s illegal in the United States and Canada to kill them.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get rid of Turkey vultures and persuade them to leave. Here are the top buzzard deterrents that really work.
Remove any dead animals as soon as possible
Have you ever had dozens or even hundreds of turkey vultures show up suddenly, as if from nowhere?
Massive arrivals of turkey vultures usually follow the death of larger animals on or near your property.
It’s important to remove animal carcasses as soon as possible to keep turkey vultures away from your property.
Proper carcass disposal is essential:
- If you plan to take a large animal to a landfill, call ahead of time to let them know you are coming. Many landfills have special rules and fees for disposing of animal carcasses.
- Sprinkling lime (the garden kind is fine) on top of the body first helps with odors.
- If you plan to dispose of the carcass yourself, wrap it in plastic first. This prevents odors from attracting foxes, raccoons, and digging animals. Dig a hole at2 least 2 feet (60 cm) deep, and cover with soil.
Keep the lids on your garbage cans
Another reason turkey vultures may gather on your property is that they found meat scraps in your garbage.
It’s hard to miss a large dead animal on your property. It’s easy to overlook meat scraps in open trash cans. Any kind of smelly meat or cheese leftover draws buzzards to your property like a magnet.
Once turkey vultures have discovered your trash cans, they will come back looking for more.
You will have to use one or more of the other deterrents listed in this article to get rid of them for good.
But simply keeping garbage covered, and as smell-free as possible, will make getting rid of turkey vultures a lot easier.
- Put meat scraps in plastic bags before you throw them out to reduce the smell.
- Secure lids on garbage cans with bungee cords, or buy garbage cans with lockable lids.
- Place trash cans in a rack so they can’t be pushed over.
- Wash down the concrete under your trash cans every couple of weeks to remove smells and tiny bits of debris.
Put in a motion-activated sprinkler system
You don’t like getting sprayed by a sprinkler. Turkey vultures don’t, either.
Turning your sprinklers is a non-toxic, safe, and effective way to get rid of these obnoxious birds. Your grass will be greener as a result, too.
Running your sprinkler all the time, in addition to drowning your lawn, won’t chase turkey vultures away. Part of the reason sprinklers work is the element of surprise. Your best bet is a motion-activated sprinkler system.
Motion sensors work to about a distance of 30 feet (10 meters). That’s enough to cover a little less than 1000 square feet (about 100 square meters) of lawn.
Sprinklers will deter squirrels, dogs, cats, and people from walking on your lawn. It may not be lawful to operate them if your municipality is underwater use restrictions.
Scare turkey vultures away with a sonic cannon
If you have guns, it can be tempting to fire a few shots into the air to shoo the turkey vultures away.
But if you are a responsible gun owner, you know it’s illegal and unsafe to fire shots into the air, because you don’t know where the bullets or buckshot will come down. And if you were to hit a bird, you would have violated federal laws.
There’s no rule, however, against shooting turkey vultures with sound.
Sonic cannons make a booming noise at random intervals. You can set your sonic cannon to go off as often as once a minute or as seldom as once every half hour. The 130 decibel sound will trigger an exodus of turkey vultures from power lines, roofs, ledges, and trees. Sonic cannons can keep an area as large as 10 acres (4 hectares) free of these pestiferous birds.
You really shouldn’t use a sonic cannon, however, unless you have a piece of land of at least 10 acres. In cities, neighbors are sure to object, and you may be in violation of municipal noise ordinances.
Put up electrified shock tracks
You can give turkey vultures a shocking experience. Install electrified shock tracks on the surfaces where they like to roost.
Turkey vultures like to be able to look down on their surroundings from a high, secluded place.
They will roost on roofs, parapets, ledges, and overhead cooling units. They are large enough that they can tear up most anti-bird installations. But they won’t destroy an electric shock tape.
Electric shock tapes look like any other adhesive tape except the top side is electrified. Shock tapes don’t carry so much current that they kill turkey vultures. (That would create another problem when turkey vultures came to feed on the dead turkey vulture.)
Shock tapes are studded with metal leads that carry current from a bird shock charger that you install with the tape.
All you have to do to install an electrified shock track is to unroll the tape, peel off the paper backing, and smooth it over spots where turkey vultures roost. Then connect the tape to the charger.
When turkey vultures attempt to roost, they will get a painful but not harmful shock from the tape and fly away.
Frighten turkey vultures with a predator kite
Turkey vultures have their own predators. Raptors such as bald eagles, golden eagles, great horned owls, and red-tailed hawks attack, kill, and eat turkey vultures.
Turkey vultures will flee at the sight of one of these predators. You can scare turkey vultures away with a kite designed to look like one of their predators.
Not just any kite will do. Decoy kites that succeed in driving turkey vultures away have reflective, bright colors. They are covered with eye-like patterns. They make a bird-shaped silhouette.
The right decoy kite will make your home and lawn look like they are protected by a dangerous predator. Even from a hundred yards (about a hundred meters) away, turkey vultures will avoid the decoy kite.
Decoy kites come with a 20-foot (6-meter) telescopic mounting pole. They are designed, so they fly when there is even a slight breeze. The only maintenance you need to do is to take the kite down in stormy or extremely windy weather to keep it from flying away.
Lay down Turkey Vulture roosting spikes
Turkey vultures have weak feet. They have a wide stance and need to hang on tight to keep from falling off their perches.
Roosting spikes create an uneven surface that doesn’t leave a turkey vulture enough room to hang on. Even if the turkey vulture finds enough room to hang on to its perch, it is poked by a spike every time it moves.
Turkey vulture roosting spikes are larger than roosting spikes for other birds. Instead of a long strip of spikes with an adhesive backing, they come in segments with three or four rods. You can apply glue or caulk to the area you want to protect, wait a few minutes for it to set, and then apply the spikes. Be sure to press down firmly, and be sure not to leave too much room between strips of spikes.
The drawback to this method is that you have put down spikes everywhere these birds can roost. If a few turkey vultures find an unprotected part of your roof, it will still attract as many turkey vultures as will fit there.
Better yet, remove turkey vulture roosting options altogether
Even better than putting down roosting spikes is getting totally rid of roosting options.
Take time to observe where turkey vultures go to roost.
If they are gathering in an old tree, cut it down. If they are perched on power lines or a cell phone tower, obviously, you can’t remove their roosting spot. But you may be able to get permission to point a sonic cannon at it.
The fewer places these buzzards have to roost, the less likely they are to plague your property.
Be aggressive about removing any place buzzards can gather, within the limits of the law and common sense.
Put out owl decoys
Owls attack, kill, and feed on turkey vultures. Turkey vultures do not stay where they see owls.
You can put up a decoy owl to scare turkey vultures away. Scarecrow or decoy owls are available in sporting goods, home improvement, and gardening supply stores.
Make sure your decoy owl looks as realistic as possible. Only a 3D owl will be effective. Turkey vultures will recognize cardboard cutouts as fake.
The best decoy owls are animatronic. They move in realistic ways, powered by solar batteries.
You get better results with two decoy owls than with one. Red flashing eyes in your decoy owl will protect your property at night. Move your decoy owls around every few days, so turkey vultures don’t realize they are fake.
Scare turkey vultures away with reflection
Flashes of sunlight at random intervals scare any kind of bird away. Moving reflections of sunlight make birds disoriented.
Turkey vultures are no exception to this rule. And the good news is, putting up reflectors is a low-cost or no-cost project you can do yourself.
Hang balls of aluminum foil on twine or fishing line from branches of trees, poles, fences, or the eaves of your house. Or hang up used CDs on the fishing line. Put up balls of foil in trees and bushes like holiday ornaments.
If you can spend a few dollars on reflectors, you can find stylish hanging reflective spirals. They are designed to reflect light in all directions and to catch every breeze. There are also reflectors that look like wind vanes from the ground but deter turkey vultures above.
Float Mylar predator balloons
Turkey vultures can be frightened away with balloons. Party balloons won’t work, however. You will need to put up tough Mylar plastic predator balloons.
What’s different about the Mylar predator balloon?
These effective buzzard deterrents are designed with visual patterns and colors that look like the gaping mouths and eyes of birds of prey.
They hang from strings, so they seem to glide in the wind. And they are reflective, so they confuse turkey vultures and make their navigation difficult.
Where do you put up predator balloons?
The best clue is a large pile of buzzard droppings or buzzard vomit. This is a site where turkey vultures have congregated during or after feeding. Or you can let the balloons float in your pool, hang them from awnings, or attach them to poles.
Predator balloons aren’t usually enough to get rid of turkey vultures, but they augment the results of other methods.
Zap turkey vultures with lasers
There are several kinds of laser deterrents on the market for keeping turkey vultures away.
Most laser bird deterrents work on the principle that random light keeps birds away. They flash varying light patterns every 1 to 15 minutes at random intervals to discourage turkey vultures from gathering at your home.
A single laser unit can protect up to a quarter of an acre (a tenth of a hectare, of 10,000 square feet). All you have to do is to make sure your laser unit is connected to a power unit, set it up, and turn it on.
But be sure your laser is pointed in a horizontal direction. Laser light aimed at passing planes has become a serious security issue in both the US and Canada.
When all else fails, call for professional help
If nothing you do to keep the buzzards away is working, call the professionals.
State and provincial wildlife management agencies can usually make referrals.
Just be sure to avoid any contractor who wants to use poisons or toxic chemicals.
They’re illegal, and over the long run, the accumulation of dead birds attracts even more turkey vultures than you had before. But this keeps the contractor in the business.
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