Turkey Vultures Invade a Maryland Neighborhood

Normally, Karen Mathews' neighorhood in Fort Washington, Md. is a suburban utopia of well-kept lawns, single family homes, and lots of trees out back. But a certain times of the day, the neighborhood starts to look like a Hitchcock movie.

Flocks of turkey vultures make themselves right at home on Mathews' roof and back deck.

And the large, noisy birds don't want to share the turf.

"They're very territorial," Mathews said. "When I came out they kind of lunged at me and I just backed into the house ... normally I'm not nervous, [but] I was scared."

The birds have soiled the roof and surfaces outside the Mathews home, forcing the family to have to wash them frequently. Plus. they are just plain loud.

"We don't need an alarm clock cause they wake you up every morning at 5:30, 6 o'clock in the morning," Mathews said, "and it sounds like people fighting in the attic."

The birds have torn up Mathews' deck furniture, and forced the family to forget about backyard activities.

"We have a cookout, and you'll see 'em coming in like an airplane," Mathews said.

She says the birds seem to have figured out the trash pick up schedule as well. "They knock the trash cans over and literally pull the trash bags out of the trash cans. There's just trash everywhere."

The turkey vultures are protected by the migratory bird act, so, harming them requires a special permit from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are allowed methods to scare them off; wildlife officials suggested sounding a bull horn or spraying vultures with a water hose, both of which the Mathews tried. That didn't work.

Now, the Mathews may take an even more drastic step to escape their avian neighbors

"Oh, I've seriously thought about moving," Mathews said.

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