Vulture Dispersal FAQs

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Turkey Vulture

Vultures serve an important function in the environment, but occasionally their selected roosting locations cause property damage and health concerns. Effective dispersal of vultures from these roosts benefits both residents and vultures in the long term.

The Town of Leesburg contracts with the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services (USDA WS) program to perform vulture dispersal efforts when necessary. For more information about vulture dispersal, please refer to the FAQs below or the following resources:

If you are currently experiencing a problem with large numbers of vultures roosting on or near your property, please call the Leesburg Police Department at 703-771-4500.

  • What can I do to discourage vultures from roosting in my yard?

    There are several things you can do to make your yard less attractive as a roosting place for vultures: 

    1. Ensure that you are not inadvertently attracting the vultures. One of the most common attractants is open containers of pet food. Remove or cover garbage cans and pet food bowls.
    2. Remove any dead trees that make convenient perches for vultures.
    3. Use humane perch deterrents, like motion-activated sprinklers or lights.
  • Where can I find more information about vultures?

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website has excellent information about both species of vulture, including conservation information: 

  • What is the Town doing to address the vulture issue?

    The Town of Leesburg has contracted with the USDA’s Wildlife Services Program to provide vulture damage management assistance. The USDA WS officials will conduct dispersal efforts, including the use of lights and noise makers that are deployed in the evening just before dark, when the birds are starting to roost. These dispersal methods encourage the birds to move away from the areas where they are causing damage.

    All dispersal activities will take place on town property or private property where we have the owner’s consent.
  • How can I tell the difference between a Turkey Vulture and a Black Vulture?

    Turkey Vultures are larger, weighing about 4-5 pounds, with a wingspan of 6 feet. The Turkey Vulture’s most distinctive feature is its bright red, featherless head. In flight, a Turkey Vulture often appears to be “wobbling” and, from underneath, all of the flight feathers are light colored. Black Vultures are smaller, weighing less than 4 pounds, with a wingspan of 5 feet or less. The Black Vulture’s head is grey and unfeathered, but larger in proportion than the Turkey Vulture’s. Viewed in flight, only the outer flight feathers of the Black Vulture are white.
  • Are my pets safe?

    Vultures are carrion eaters. They eat animals that are already dead, preferring animals that have been dead for two to four days. However, there have been occasional reports of Black Vultures preying upon small, live, relatively defenseless animals. There are no accounts of Turkey Vultures preying upon live animals.
  • Won’t the vultures naturally leave on their own?

    Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures are migratory birds. However, as their populations increase, their range has increased as well. We typically see both species in the Leesburg area year-round. While their numbers increase from November through early February, they decline again each year as non-resident birds migrate and flocks disperse.
  • Vultures aren’t new to this area. What has changed?

    Vultures are highly adaptive creatures. Unlike some types of wildlife that shy away from human contact, vultures have adapted to the human environment – perhaps a bit too well. Their behavior can be destructive. They have been known to tear window and roof caulking, vent seals, shingles, rubber seals on car windshields, windshield wipers and other soft, rubbery materials. Their excrement is highly corrosive and damaging to painted surfaces and landscaping. The birds also regurgitate a reeking and corrosive vomit.

    It is possible that as stands of trees in backyards and parks have matured, the birds have become more attracted to these areas for their nightly roosting. When the birds congregate in large numbers (we have seen groups of more than 100 birds) in backyards, the result is that homeowners experience property damage and have concerns about the accumulations of excrement and vomit.
  • Will the Town or USDA WS kill any vultures?

    No, the lights and noise are just annoying to the birds. As a result, they will not roost, but will move off to another roosting location.
  • I have lots of vultures roosting in my backyard. Can I pay an exterminator to kill or trap the birds?

    Vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The birds, their nests and eggs cannot be killed or destroyed without a permit from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. If you are having a problem with large numbers of vultures roosting in or near your backyard, please contact the Leesburg Police Department at 703-771-4500.