As a migratory bird, turkey vultures are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918). Therefore, it is illegal to possess or kill turkey vultures and is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and imprisonment.
Turkey vultures arrive in Iowa usually in March and leave when freezing temperatures arrive. The birds mate from March into June. They don’t build a nest, rather their nest is a bare surface in a protected place, such as the cavity of a dead or rotting tree.
Other interesting facts about turkey vultures:
• Individual birds live in the same roost most of their life, sleeping in the same tree and on the same branch nearly every night. Thus, this problem will continue to exist for years to come as the birds migrate back home once weather temperatures in Iowa are warm enough.
• Strong acid in their stomachs and a very hot digestive system kill bacteria and viruses from the food that they eat. Vultures play an important role in our ecosystem by efficiently disposing of carrion that could be a breeding ground for disease.
• Turkey vultures have no vocal chords, and there for cannot squawk or sing. Rather, turkey vultures communicate through hissing or grunting.
• Their main defense system is projectile vomit- so don’t get too close!
What Can Be Done about the Birds in my Neighborhood?
There are few solutions that can easily be done to encourage the Turkey Vultures to find another location. A few suggestions made by Iowa DNR and Jasper County Conservation include:
• Use of an effigy (a fake dead bird) to ward off the vultures. Real dead birds have been used in great success, though they are difficult to obtain given the protections of the vultures.
• Removal of the dying trees while birds have migrated south.
Immediately removing the trees would not be advisable given the birds are presently here and mating season is currently going on. Removal of the dying larch trees would be one solution. Many of the trees are are located upon private property.
• Use of loud noise in the evening hours.
When vultures arrive back at the roost, in the evenings, spending time banging pots and pans would be one way to make the roost less inviting. In order for this to work, consistency in making the racket every day/evening is necessary.
For more information on turkey vultures visit the Iowa DNR website and this specific link about turkey vultures: