Turkey Vultures

General biology of 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


  • 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 before they roost for the night

  • propane cannons, pyrotechnics, lasers etc.

Vulture taxidermic effigy

Remove attractants like garbage, or enclose it

Electric shock track

Tree shock


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