Vultures are large birds that feed on carrion or dead animal meat. And while they don’t hunt for their prey and prefer to stay in the wild, one or two may get lost in your backyard. Still, you should know how to get rid of vultures in your yard as they can bring a slew of problems.
The major concern among vultures in residential areas is their destructive nature. They are also noisy and tend to leave rotting carcasses around, which is something you won’t like to discover on your property. However, you simply can’t shoot or kill them for a very important reason.
Shooting vultures can send you to jail!
Before you reach for your rifle to exterminate the vulture in your yard, let me stop you there. Vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Anyone who wishes to kill, trap, and relocate vultures needs to secure a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS).
So what happens if I kill a vulture in my yard? No matter how destructive these birds are, killing them will land you with a maximum of 6-month prison time and up to $15,000 in fines. This is because violation of the Migratory Bird Treating Act is considered a misdemeanor. Of course, this is unless you can prove that you accidentally killed the protected bird.
So instead of resorting to violence, you can explore my methods below in getting rid of vultures. These are safer but remain effective in driving away the pesky scavenger.
What attracts vultures in my backyard?
Regular sightings of vultures in your yard mean there are attractants in or nearby your property. Here are some of the potential vulture magnets:
🦅Dead animals or meat leftovers
The main attractant of vultures is meat leftovers you leave in your yard or dead animal carcasses. This is the main diet of vultures, so don’t be surprised once you see them flocking to your property.
Vultures can smell rotting flesh from a mile away. So even if your area isn’t frequented by vultures, a food source can send them flying into your backyard.
Specifically, vultures are attracted to a gas called mercaptan. This gas is released by rotting corpses, which is very appealing to these scavengers.
Many didn’t know that cow excrement is actually an attractant to vultures. This is because cow dung has nutrients that intensify an Egyptian vulture’s yellow beaks. The more colorful an Egyptian vulture’s beak is, the more attractive it will be to females.
Specifically, the carotenoids in cow poop deliver this vibrant yellow color. While Egyptian vultures can source this somewhere else, cow dung seems to be a very convenient choice.
🦅Afterbirth of animals
Afterbirth excretions of animals are also attractive to vultures. This is why farm owners are careful not to leave the newly born animal in the open as it can be pecked and attacked by vultures. Also, birds of prey are attracted to the smell of afterbirth, which puts the offspring animal in harm’s way.
🦅A hunter’s dressing site
Are you a hunter or living near one? If so, the dressing site of the hunter’s catch might be sending vultures your way. Again, vultures don’t hunt for prey; they just look for dead carcasses they can feed on. This is exactly what you can find on a hunter’s lot.
Such attractant will get worse if the hunter tosses strips of meat cuttings on the ground. Doing so turns a yard into a ‘vulture restaurant’.
🦅Large insect population
While vultures are known to feed on animal meat, they also nibble on insects. This might be the reason why vultures perch on your roof and peck through the shingles. There might be a large insect population under the shingles, which the vultures want to get.
Nevertheless, this is less likely to happen in residential areas. Still, there’s a possibility, especially if your roof is old and unkempt.
How to get rid of vultures in your yard
If the vulture visits to your yard are getting too often to your liking, it’s time to do something. However, it’s important never to resort to any form of violence. Remember, vultures are protected species. No matter how damaging they are, you can still go to jail for killing one.
Still, it’s perfectly legal to scare vultures away. You can also utilize physical deterrents as long as they won’t cause serious harm or death to the bird. With that, here are some of the methods I swear by:
✔️Clean up all carrion sources
The first thing you should do is inspect your yard for any carrion or dead animal carcass. This is an immediate food source for vultures, which attracts them to your property.
If you discover any animal carcass, dispose of it in the trash can. Or better yet, bury it deep in your yard, so vultures won’t get to sniff it.
If you’re neighbors with a hunter, you can talk to him about the vulture situation. Some individuals intentionally attract vultures to their property, which causes some to drop by neighboring houses. If your neighbor does this, it’s important to raise your concern.
✔️Don’t leave your outdoor grills dirty.
Another thing you should avoid is leaving your outdoor kitchen or grill dirty. The meat bits left on the grill can attract a vulture nearby.
Since vultures still feed on decaying carcasses, a dirty grill from last weekend’s BBQ party can still be an attractant. Specifically, this can attract a lot of hungry turkey vultures to your property.
This is why you should clean as you go whenever you’re using your outdoor grill. Aside from cleaning, you should cover it as well to prevent critters and stray animals from trying to sniff it.
✔️Cover your garbage bins
It’s also important to keep your garbage bins covered at all times. This is more so if you’re dumping meat leftovers into the trash. And aside from vultures, leftover food in the bin can invite a slew of stray animals, pests, and other bird species.
So if you don’t want unwanted guests in your yard, you should seal your garbage bin all the time. Also, you should avoid tossing table scraps into your mulch if your area is prone to vulture sightings. These food bits are like breadcrumbs for large birds. If you keep doing this, the vultures will habitually patrol your yard for food.
✔️Use a motion-activated sprinkler system.
Once you’re done cleaning up any potential attractant, it’s time to get into the actual repelling process. I highly recommend motion-activated sprinklers since this is very effective against vultures, in my experience. Also, you’ll get to drive away other unwanted animals that will enter your yard.
However, placement is crucial when using a motion-activated sprinkler system. You shouldn’t place it on the spot with frequent foot traffic as it may cause false triggers. The last thing you want is getting soaked by your own sprinklers.
If you have pets, you shouldn’t allow them outdoors as this will trigger the sprinklers. Of course, this is except if your pet loves water and you don’t mind having a hefty water bill.
✔️Hang a vulture effigy
According to the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, a vulture effigy is effective in scaring away the bird. The effigy is said to be effective in preventing black vultures from congregating in your area.
In fact, vulture effigies are widely used among farmers who want to protect their herds. Make sure that you hang it on a visible spot. It’s best to use multiple effigies if you have a large yard, and it must be suspended in the air using a rope.
Most farmers handmade their vulture effigies using scrap materials. You can also purchase vulture models that you can use as an effigy.
✔️Install a scarecrow kite and decoys
If you can’t find a vulture effigy, you can use a scarecrow kite and decoys as alternatives.
For the best results, you should choose a scarecrow kite that’s larger than vultures. It should also have bright colors and eye-like patterns. Finally, if possible, choose a reflective material that will help disorient a vulture as it tries to get near your yard.
Most of the time, these scarecrow kites have a wingspan of 6 meters and are mounted on a telescopic pole. It’s also aerodynamic to keep the kite moving even on mild winds.
Aside from scarecrow kites, you can also place decoys on the ground. Vultures are scared of owls and hawks, so you can use this to trick them away. You can purchase fake owl and hawk statues that you can place on the spots where the vultures frequent your yard.
However, for decoys to be effective, you should move them regularly. Otherwise, vultures will realize that your decoys are nothing but harmless fixtures.
✔️Play distress sounds
If your neighbors don’t mind the noise, you can send the vultures away with a sonic cannon. Basically, these are propane-fueled devices that will fire a loud sound of about 130 decibels. Due to this nature, sonic cannons are best used on large properties and away from other houses that may be disturbed by the noise.
Take note that sonic cannons aren’t passive solutions. You have to watch your yard for vultures so you can trigger this device. Also, the loud sound can scare other animals you don’t mean to drive away.
With that, I recommend a much simpler distress sound for residential areas. You can place a speaker in your yard where you can play vulture predator sounds from the internet, all for free.
✔️Utilize roosting spikes
A simple solution you can add to the points above is roosting spikes. These are standard bird spikes that will prevent vultures from perching on your fence, roof, and other parts of the yard. It’s also safe and requires minimal maintenance once installed.
These spikes are highly effective among large birds. Also, vultures have weak feet, which is why they prefer dead animals over live ones. They rely more on their beaks to tear through carrions. With that, it would be impossible for them to overcome bird spikes.
Aside from vultures, bird spikes almost all medium to large size birds. It’s the sole solution for a lot of your bird problems. Just make sure that it’s installed well, as vultures are powerful birds.
✔️Use shiny things
Shiny objects like old CDs work well in repelling vultures away. However, the light reflecting from the shiny side of CDs is annoying for birds. They will fly away instead of going near your yard.
Aside from CDs, you can also use shiny spirals, scare tapes, and mirrors. These visual deterrents are very effective, but you should position them well as the reflection can annoy your neighbors.
The good thing about this method is your make it on your own or buy it from the store.
✔️Put up a bird net
If the vultures in your area are being too invasive, you can install a bird net in your yard. Turkey netting works well against vultures and will protect livestock and foliage from bird damage.
Personally, I recommend nets with polyethylene twines as these are more durable and less of an eyesore than other materials. You can also double up the layer for the most eager vultures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it mean when black vultures are around your property?
A: Some cultures believe that vultures lurking around is a sign that death will visit your home soon. This is much so if the vulture perches on your roof. However, this is nothing but a legend. The truth is that vultures visit your property because they detect a food source nearby. And since vultures don’t hunt for live prey, they won’t eat you or your family.
Q: Is there a difference between a vulture and a buzzard?
A: The terms buzzard and vulture are quite tricky and will have different meanings, depending on where you use them. For example, in North America, a buzzard is a vulture, and a vulture is a vulture. But in the rest of the world, a buzzard is a hawk, and a vulture is, as it’s called, a vulture.
Q: Will vultures eat dead humans?
A: Although it’s a gruesome question, the truth is that vultures will feed on any dead meat, including human remains. After all, vultures are scavengers, and they will eat any sustenance they can find. And if you want a few sleepless nights, you should know that vultures typically pick up dead animals from the anus. Why? It’s because the anus gives easy access to a being’s tasty entrails.
Q: Can vultures smell buried animals?
A: While most birds don’t have a sense of smell, vultures are one of the few that are blessed with strong sniffers. Their noses are so sensitive that they can pick up the scent of a dead animal from up to a mile away. This is because dead animals release chemical compounds that signal the vultures of a food source.
Q: Can you keep a vulture as a pet?
A: Technically, you can’t capture a vulture and keep it as a pet. It’s illegal under federal laws. But if you’re keen to keep one, you have to undergo rigorous documentation to own a vulture as a pet legally. So unless you own a zoo or aviary, I don’t see any reason why a person would be so committed to owning a vulture.
Knowing how to get rid of vultures in your yard will save you from a lot of trouble. While vultures aren’t known to bring communicable diseases, they are a nuisance to your property. Also, they will leave rotting carrions, which is an unpleasant surprise to whoever will visit your yard.
Do you have your own vulture repelling methods to share? Feel free to comment them down below!