Check local ordinances before harassing buzzards. Use goggles and hearing protection before using shotguns, pistols or cannons. Use break-down weapons to fire bangers or pyrotechnics so that you can check the barrel between uses.
The black vulture (Coragyps atratus) and turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) are also known as buzzards. These large birds rarely hunt live prey but instead live on already dead animals, or carrion. Turkey vultures find carrion using their sense of smell and excellent vision. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell, but turkey buzzards can smell prey hidden below a tree canopy. Buzzards prefer to sit on high perches, and they perch in large groups. Aside from trees, they will sit on electric poles and houses, where they can become a serious problem, often damaging roofs and other garden items. Buzzards are protected species throughout North America.
Remove dead animals immediately to reduce attractive food sources for the buzzards, making the area less attractive to these large birds. Burn or bury dead animal carcasses you find near your home.
Dispose of any afterbirth immediately if you have birthing animals such as sheep and cattle.
Put up a tight wire 8 inches above roof peaks and running parallel to it to prevent buzzards from perching on the roof. If the line sags much lower, buzzards can straddle the line. If the line is much higher than 8 inches, the buzzards can sit underneath the line. If a single line isn't sufficient, install monofilament netting over the roof peak to discourage vultures from landing. Attach mylar helium balloons to your roof to discourage buzzards from landing.
Apply sticky materials such as Tanglefoot, Roost-No-More, sticky tar or double-sided tape around favorite perching areas. These kinds of sticky materials on their feet will discourage the birds from walking or perching in that area.
Use sudden, loud noises to discourage the birds from roosting on your roof. Starter pistols and propane cannons are effective, as are whistles. It may take a week or more for this procedure to have an effect. Concentrate on disrupting the birds just before sunset as they look for a nightly roost. Other sounds that may discourage buzzards from roosting include the calls of other blackbirds, such as crows. Use these calls for only a few seconds at a time, sporadically.
A single dead buzzard hung near a roosting area will discourage buzzards from roosting there; however, this method requires a federal permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Use this method only as a last resort, as not only does it require killing a protected species, but also the bird will smell as it rots. Instead, consider trying a buzzard decoy, or a duck decoy painted to look like a buzzard, hung upside down from a wire.
Writing fanzine-based articles since 1985, Kasandra Rose writes and edits articles for political and health blogs and TrueBloodNet.com and has an extensive technical writing background. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Arts in biology from Wayne State University.