Now vultures are an enemy

Ron SteffeA week or so ago my local paper ran a front page article concerning a so called invasion of buzzards into a southeastern Pennsylvania town.

Residents of this small borough have protested to both police and town council that turkey vultures “have terrorized the citizenry with their scary looks and nasty habits.”


The residents don’t like the birds because they are “homely” to look at.. They also find them offensive because they have a defense mechanism that allows the scavenger to launch vomit up to 12 feet. These people also fear that the birds feces deposits are acidic, and will eat away at the sidings and shingles of their homes.

It is true that vultures, both turkey and the black species, have expanded their winter range northward over the years, but according to Keith Bildstein, director of conservation services at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary who specializes in behavioral psychology of birds of prey and vultures, that’s mostly because there has been such little sustained snow cover over the southeastern part of Pennsylvania in recent years.

“Heavy snow cover will move them south.” Bildstein said.

These frightened town people may want to learn some interesting facts about vultures before they undertake a quest to remove these “protected” birds.

Vultures are not aggressive to humans. They are clean birds, and bathe daily. They’re not vulnerable to the kind of diseases other birds are. They can survive botulism and can tolerate higher levels of lead — levels that would fell an eagle, for instance.

And best of all, they’re willing and able to clean up the road kills and garbage humans leave behind.

The fact is, this is just another example of people overtaking the space wild things need to survive, and their failure to understand the beauty and necessities of living creatures beyond themselves.

This is a never-ending problem with humankind.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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