Editor’s Column: The buzzard battle

To my dismay, the turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) have returned to roost in one of the trees

Niki Turner
in our yard.
Why is this a problem? Besides the fact that they make the yard stink, send my dog into barking fits and make me wonder if someone is hiding dead bodies nearby? My biggest concern is that they’re harmful to trees. Most of the trees in my neighborhood are century-old evergreens and cottonwoods. I’ll take those old trees, which aren’t easy to replace, over a flock of buzzards any day.
As there are more than enough trees around for the critters to roost in, I think asking them (nicely) to relocate is ethical. Turkey buzzards are, for some bizarre reason, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are not to be harmed. (Who makes these decisions, and where do they live? I’ve got some buzzard guests in search of a new abode.) There are harmless, humane methods to convince the birds to move out.
Loud noises, firecrackers, spraying them with a hose (that would be easier if the tree wasn’t 100 feet tall), buying really expensive zappers or motion-sensing sprinklers, and hanging effigies of dead vultures upside down from neighboring trees are all supposed to be successful deterrents, although there are warnings online that if you scare the birds too well they’ll barf on you. And they eat dead stuff, so that sounds especially nasty… like zombie vomit.
The City of Craig announced at the end of March that they were beginning a second-year program to “roust” a group of turkey vultures inhabiting downtown (near their courthouse, oddly enough) using “loud sound-making devices” fired from rifles and shotguns. Whether their results are successful or not remains to be seen. It is, after all, their second year of the program.
Interestingly, the Cherokee referred to the turkey vulture as the “peace eagle.” Maybe because they watched the scavengers devour the flesh of their dead enemies? I don’t know. I do know plenty of folks like the birds. If that’s you, please let me know… I’ll see if I can send the vultures a message to move to your house.

Don’t forget, today is World Civility Day! Be civil to one another. In my opinion, that includes keeping your dogs on a leash or otherwise contained so they can’t attack other animals or people walking down the street, picking up your dog’s poop when you go for a walk (or if you ignore the previous suggestion and let them run loose to poop at will on public or private property), etc.
You know, you can tell a lot about who people are by the way they allow their dogs to interact with society. Just a thought.

Easter greetings to one and all. If the weather forecast holds true we should have a lovely weekend to get outside, hunt for Easter eggs, eat jellybeans and enjoy springtime! Blessings to you and yours.