Are You Seeing More Turkey Vultures Than You Used To?

Turkey vultureFlying turkey vulturesHas anyone noticed an increase in the amount of turkey vultures? Are you seeing more vultures than you used to? In the past, it seemed like a rarity to spot a vulture in my area. The only place I saw them was on the side of the road, picking at the remains of something that had lost an encounter with a moving vehicle. Lately, I see them soaring all over the place. Most of the time, the vultures are flying solo or in pairs; sometimes there are several in a group. The other day, I saw eight or nine vultures circling over my house. It felt like they were spying on me and I started to wonder if I was looking sickly! Today, there were four vultures scouting over the parking lot at the grocery store.

If I lived in Georgia, I’d probably be very happy to only have a few vultures to watch. According to a news report by, a Georgia neighborhood is experiencing an influx of hundreds of turkey vultures. I’ve seen Canadian geese in the hundreds, but not turkey vultures. Hundreds of vultures invading my neighborhood would be quite intimidating to say the least.

After doing some research, I’ve learned that my observation was correct. There really are more turkey vultures in New Jersey. Information provided by the USDA states that the turkey vulture population has increased over the past 50 years in northeast. Vultures can live up to 16 years. They are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As you are out observing wildlife where you live, are you noticing an increase in the amount of turkey vultures? We welcome your comments..
Editor’s Note – April 2012:
Here is a link for a more recent Nature in the Burbs post about vultures: Our New Neighbors: Vultures.


52 responses to “Are You Seeing More Turkey Vultures Than You Used To?

  1. It wasn’t that long ago that turkey vultures were uncommon in NJ. As have many birds, they are spreading northward. For the past 10 years, another vulture, the black vulture has been increasing its NJ range and population. Both birds have plenty of food, courtesy of our roads and automobiles.

  2. I haven’t done any research and this comment is based more on observation than investigation. Here in Georgia, the deer population has made an incredible rebound. But because there are more deer, that means more are being hit on the roadway and hence that could cause the sighting of more vultures. I see dead deer all over the place and that’s why Georgia, over the years, has increased conservation efforts to control population growth. Sometimes we can attract deer into our neighborhoods because of the succulent plants we grow around our landscapes. Unfortunately, that may draw them across the dangerous highways.

  3. Yes, I agree with both of you about the road and autos. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Last week, I observed a flock of what appeared to be black vultures in tghe trees around my home. I’ve never seen them this far east (Millburn), and to see 8 of them in one tree was quite a sight!

  5. Thanks for your observations Mer. I had 4 more flying over my house two days ago.

  6. Last week I saw 6 vultures hanging out in the trees in my yard. I could not figure out what kind of huge birds they are until I matched my pictures with some online photos! I live in the South Mountain section of Millburn NJ. Thanks for posting about this!

    • Thanks for your comment. You are the second person from Millburn to comment on the number of vultures they’ve seen recently. The most I ever saw at one time (20-25) was in Watchung.

  7. hi! i live in west milford nj and i saw 5 turkey vultures around in the trees and in the dumpster outside my house. My 6yr old daughter and I looked it up on the internet because we were curious to know what they were.Also didnt know if we should let our kitty outside:(….Will they hurt the cat?

  8. I have 50 turkey vultures in a tree next to my driveway and they are making very smelly deposits.

  9. I had 10 turkey vultures on my roof one morning. I was still sleeping and all the scritch/scratching and banging woke me up. I wondered if there were roofers working on my roof??
    So I went outside and looked up and…EGADS!
    I wanted those big birds off my roof before I had no shingles left.
    But each time I yelled at them, they just shrugged their winged shoulders up and down—and didn’t move. I sing opera, so I decided to sing my highest note as loud as I could, and that scared them. Must have thought I was a bigger bird than they were, so they all flew off before I could fly up there. **Someone later told me that I should have been more careful about scaring them, because their first line of defense it to throw up? AND that would have been a real mess!

  10. I live in Ohio in town but next to a wooded area. There are about 50-60 that roost in the trees beside my house. They have never really came into my yard until recently. Not going to lie looking out my window and seeing 10 of the in my back yard freaks me out. My son plays back there. Good to know about the vomit.

  11. My sister and I were walking our dogs at Oak Ridge park in Clark last night when we saw a turkey vulture land on the ground. When we walked over to check it out another swooped down from a high tree and chased after us. We actually had to run under a low tree. It was pretty scary.

  12. I live in small town in Ohio and live near a wooded area, I have noticed so many Turkey Buzzards flying around my house. I think they have a nest in the wooded area next to me. I hear them everyday and see them soaring above. They sure are big! I have never seen so many. I have 3 small dogs and a big dog and was really worried they were going to try to carry off my tiniest dog that weighs only 2 and a half pounds, a Pomeranian. I later learned they are scavengers but still worry when I see them soaring above my house. I even see them when I drive threw town, soaring above.

    • Thanks for your comments Jasmine. When you see them in the air you don’t realize they are as big as they are until you see them close up. I saw one yesterday in my town, just sitting on the side of the road, with no visible carcass in sight. Was wondering what he was up to!

  13. Live in Jackson, NJ. See them quite a lot, Just had over a dozen flying over my house, certainly not a rare sight.

  14. Yesterday I saw 2 turkey vultures on my neighbor’s front lawn(I only know what they are since I went online and checked the pictures). They were actually were stopping traffic on one of our major roads so they could eat. I couldnt believe how big these birds were, they stood as high as the grills on some cars. I parked my car and went down to check them out. One immediately flew up onto a tree but the other one was trying to grab his “lunch” to take it with him. Lets just say, lunch was a squirrel and they do a very good job of skinning. Having the two of them sitting there staring down at me was really creepy. We live in Runnemede which is South Jersey.

    • They sure are strange looking! I suppose I’d be hesitant to leave my lunch too. I haven’t seen any turkey vultures this winter, but I’ve seen quite a few black vultures. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I just saw one a couple of days ago! I had never seen any around my area before.

  16. Saw a turkey vulture pick up a dead squirrel in Clifton NJ yesterday

  17. we have noticed about a dozen all around our house. We have 23 big trees,oaks and there is an overgrown acre next door with many trees and there is a sudden influx of crows,and turkey buzzards..we are not that far from i-75 south of gainseville,fl. Is it possible the COLD and the new storms coming have driven tham here?

  18. The Vultures are in abundance here in N.C. i think a major disaster of some kind is happening soon and they know bodies are going to pile up.

  19. Bonny Millard

    Yes, I live in Central Kansas and have a woods in my backyard that is only about 23 acres, however, in the last week 40-50 turkey vultures have come to roost there?This has never happened before? Just wondering….

    • Yikes! That’s would be very unsettling to suddenly have them many near your home.
      I found this info on the Bird Web website, “They usually forage alone, but sometimes congregate around food sources. In the Pacific Northwest, they roost communally in small groups. In the eastern US, several thousand birds may nest in the same area.”

  20. They are everywhere. But.. they are cool. So many lately that I pulled out my camera to take some cool shots.

  21. I live in Norwood, NJ (Bergen County) and Turkey Vultures are very common here-they like the updrafts over the Palisades and Hudson River. However, tonight we saw 2 Black Vultures landing on Livingston St in Northvale, NJ. That is a first!!! I have seen them in the South but never up here!

    • Wow, I guess they are getting used to more urbanized areas. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • I live on Livingston Street in Northvale and I see the black vultures almost daily. They like to sit on the chimneys of the houses across the street. I’ve seen them close up too when there is a dead animal on the road. My husband and I were out taking a walk right before Halloween and we came across a house on Livingston Street that had about 12 of them sitting on its porch and lawn. At first we thought they were Halloween decorations.

  22. In Barrie, Ontario, North end on Thursday Aug 7 at appx 6 pm as we were eating supper, we saw a lot of big birds soaring around. I counted 24 and there where other separate from them. I ran out with binoculars and saw what they were. An older couple had just been up the road near the small airport and saw some on ground eating something, and they said they smelled bad and had red heads. It seems the last few afternoons we have smelled what we
    thought was very strong skunk smell all around. I know skunks and that is Unusual. Sunday saw 3 more around 1 pm.
    Why when in all my 74 yrs have I never saw them before. Is there
    a reason???

  23. Within the last month I’ve noticed 20 or so gliding over our houses in town. Never seen this many b4 in one time have to say it has me scratching my head. I’m in Oklahoma

  24. mary louise helwig

    the turkey vultures are “house sitting” sometimes four to a roof. they seem to like the area around chimneys.

  25. saw turkey vulture in the yard in linden nj!! I was surprised since id never seen one here…my dog about the same size ran after it and the bird took off rapidly,the wing span freaked me out!! wow!!

  26. I was hiking along the hudson between Exit 1 and 2 of Palisades Interstate parkway, and i saw 3 huge birds up ahead on top of trees. Then one by one they started to circle on top of me.
    Being all alone in the woods, i got slightly intimidated and picked up a stick and started to pick up my pace. And then i felt like they were were breaking up for an ambush formation or something so i ran away as quickly as I could. and they just pretty much followed me for a good .2-.3 miles
    I wasn’t sure what kind of birds they were, but doing some research and looking at pictures, im guessing they were turkey vultures.
    I also searched on Google ‘Do turkey vultures attack humans’? my conclusion is they do not?
    One of the 3 had Extremely long wingspan, with several feathers missing

    • They probably were from your description. That would freak me out if they were circling over me! They eat dead things, so maybe they were catching an air current that just happened to be above you! Thanks for visiting.

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