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Henry County, GA

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McDonough, GA 30253
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Henry County Animal Care & Control

Wild Animals: Buzzards/Vultures

Buzzard/Vulture

Vultures/Buzzards are some of the most common species of birds found throughout the southeast. Vultures commonly seen in the Southeast are classified as one of two species, the turkey vulture or the black vulture.  The turkey vulture has a red, wrinkled head and a dark body.  The black vulture has a head that is dark to light gray and furrowed with wrinkles.

These two species of birds are commonly seen circling in the sky or standing along the roadside eating the carcass of dead animals. Known as “scavengers of the skies,” vultures were once hunted in large numbers because of the belief that they carry diseases. But over time, they have come to be seen as a beneficial asset by cleaning up the remains of dead animals. Today, most view the vulture as one of nature’s most efficient, natural recyclers.

At the end of a long day of feeding and searching for food, vultures begin to move back to their roosting sites. Both species form large communal roosts.  They will usually return to the same roost each night and generally roost on the same branch as previous nights. Observations of vulture roosts showed both species will occupy the same roosts and use them year after year. Some of these roosts are believed to be over 100 years old and are shared by parents and grandparents.

Common roosting sites preferred by vultures are power lines, radio towers, tall trees, or old buildings. These roosts create a foul smell and may seem unsanitary to the human eye, but due to the unique digestive system of vultures any bacteria or disease they may ingest is killed. Their droppings and pellets (undigested bones and fur) are considered disease free.

Vultures may seem unattractive or disgusting, but they play an important role in the animal world. Nature uses these birds to help clean up the environment of decaying animals. This clean-up crew provides a service that could prevent the spread of certain diseases.

All vultures/buzzards are protected by law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act so humane control methods must be used to move them.  For more information, please contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Game and Fish Division at (770) 918-6400.

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Last updated: Monday February 24 2014

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Henry County, Georgia - Board of Commissioners - County Government