Next week it will be all about the turkey. But this week …. turkey buzzards are the talk of the table. Gross to think about, but oddly enough, somewhat beautiful to watch if you can catch them sunning in the early morning mist.
What? Have you seen them? Because, if you haven’t, you might not ever understand the old adage “gone to roost.” But property owner Doug Linton, who has counted more than 80 of the creatures lurking around in his yard, said he has learned just what that means. “They’re not going anywhere,” he said.
Take a ride over to Wallace, turn on Hwy 1 toward Rockingham, and just past the stores you’ll find the edge of a small swamp along Mason Road to your right; and just down the highway is Delta Heights Road. There’s a pond in back of the property there and the buzzards, well, treat it like it’s their own vacation spot. They’re lined up on the fence with their wings stretched open like they’re enrolled in yoga class. They’re bathing in the pond, they’re perched on the roof top and sitting in nearly every limb of the swamp.
“They’re here most any time of the year,” said Linton, but more have come in lately. “There are just so many of them. And you can’t shoot them, it’s against the law. Although I’ve had a lot of people to volunteer.”
Ironically, Linton is a bird lover. He raises baby chicks and even has a few black swans by the pond. “But I don’t like the buzzards,” he said. “I wish they weren’t here.”
It’s practically a daily routine, but it’s useless, said Linton. “I can chase them off with the golf cart around 10 in the morning, but they’ll come right back by three or four in the afternoon.”
“They almost create a cloud when you stir them up,” said Linton. He describes the air as, literally, becoming dark when they take flight; there are so many of them and their wings spans are so massive.
Linton, who didn’t want his photograph taken with a bunch of buzzards, laughed when he realized an article would be written about his daily nuisance. “Maybe they’ll finally believe me at work,” he said. “They think I exaggerate.”
But Linton’s not the only one to battle these beastly birds. According to a 2010 report from the South Carolina Wildlife Services, “Vulture problems are one of the most frequent wildlife complaints received by the Wildlife Service Program.” The report also said, “The accumulation of droppings represents a health concern to residents and potential property damage. Vulture behavior damages shingles, boat covers, and awnings on homes, vehicles and businesses.”
Surprisingly, Linton’s tactics of chasing them off with the golf cart may not be as far fetched for a solution as one might think. Wildlife Services actually offer scare tactics that help “towns and the communication industry by dispersing roosts and helping local officials obtain required permits to remove vultures in an effort to reinforce harassment programs. Wildlife Services also provides bird-scaring equipment and technical assistance.”
“I just wish they’d find some where else to go,” said Linton. “I’m a bird lover, but not buzzards!”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.