Patch reader Karen Sullivan has a question about some uninvited guests in her yard:
My property seems to be a "landing" ground for huge turkey vultures (not even sure that's truly the proper name of the ugly birds). They've been around for years..
Curious if they truly carry diseases and are unhealthy to have around..at any given time i can see at least 5-10 in my tall trees.
Turns out, they're not turkey vultures—they're black vultures. That's according to Lisa Kiziuk, Director of Bird Conservation at Willistown Conservation Trust, who says the birds are fairly common to this area and tend to roost during the winter.
Vultures do not carry diseases, and on the contrary actually clean our environment thereby reducing our risk for disease by eating all of the carion. Without vultures, we would have dead things lying around everywhere!
They are amazing birds and when people learn about their interesting natural history, they usually gain a deep appreciation for them.
Kiziuk went on link to link to a story about poisoned vultures in India and more info than you wanted on turkey vultures (her words). She suggested Sullivan call the PA Game commission or a private animal control expert.