York, PA - Maggie and Charles Talucci have lived on Park Avenue in Glen Rock nearly three years.
They fell in love with their charming home on a three-quarter-acre lot in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by trees, and knew it would be great place to raise the son they were expecting.
At the time they didn't know about the vultures who also called the area home, had not been told about the huge birds that would roost in their trees and dirty their lawn and cars.
The Taluccis are among the families in several Glen Rock neighborhoods that have been battling up to 500 vultures. The birds are dirty, destructive and a health hazard, but
Residents in the Rexwood area were the first to implement a "harassment program" designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to try to drive the birds away.
"Many of them have left, but they were the migratory birds that have moved on," Shiles said during a council meeting last week.
Maggie Talucci said her family began having problems with vultures during the first fall at their new home. When fall arrived, so did the birds -- 200 to 300 of them.
"We had no idea. We would never have bought the house if we had known about them," she said. "They poop and vomit everywhere. They are disgusting, repulsive and scary, and there is a horrible stench from them.
"They aren't afraid of you, and you have to get up really close to them before you can chase them away. They hiss if you come too close and they smell awful," she said.
The Taluccis said they paid the U.S. Department of Agriculture nearly $1,000 to get rid of the birds, but they never really went away. They shot off fireworks and made noise to get rid of them, but nothing really seemed to work.
When they first moved into their home, they cut down a couple of the big pine trees to let in a little more light. Later, they cut down a few more to get rid of the vultures.
"It was horrible to walk from our house to the car," Talucci said. "We had vulture shoes that we put on to walk to the car, took them off to get in the car and when we got home put them on again to walk to the house.
"We do the same thing when we take out the trash, and I wipe down the floors every day," she said.
They plan to attend an upcoming town hall meeting to find out what others are doing about the vultures in their neighborhood.
"I love it here, but we would sell the house and move because of the vultures. But who would buy it?" Talucci said.
Joe and Kathy Heisler live on Cottage Avenue. That's across town from Park Avenue, where the Taluccis live, but fairly close to Rexwood Drive, where neighbors have cut back the vulture flock from 500 or more to about 50.
"Our lot backs up to those on Rexwood, and we see the vultures. We see 50 to 100 in a flock and multiple flocks. This year it has really been terrible," Joe Heisler said.
Could the vultures have stolen a cat food dish from their back porch? It was a little blue dish used to feed a couple neighborhood cats. One day it disappeared.
"I thought it was just someone being funny until one day I saw something in the woods and walked up to see what it was. It was the little blue dish my wife used to feed the cats," Heisler said. "I don't think an animal carried it up there because there were no teeth marks and it wasn't scratched up."
No surprise since the vultures seem to have little fear of humans.
"They come right up on our back porch, 2 feet away from our back door. They seem to be pretty fearless," Heisler said.
Like his neighbors on Rexwood, Heisler is working to chase the vultures away.
"It seems to be paying off," he said.
Kathy Wells lives on Holley Lane, just off New Street, and while vultures nest in the trees behind her home, they do not sit on her house roof or cause a lot of problems.
Nevertheless, she would like to see them leave town.
"They are ugly and dirty," she said.
--- There are black and turkey vultures.
--- Adult turkey vultures have red, naked heads and red feet. They are larger than black vultures and, in Pennsylvania, they outnumber black vultures.
--- They are social birds, living in groups of up to 25.
--- Vultures feed on dead animals. Their heads are featherless, which allows them to stay relatively clean and parasite-free when eating.
--- They hiss or grunt but cannot sing because they do not have a voicebox.
--- When resting, they will often hold their wings out to sun themselves.
--- An adult turkey vulture has a wing span up to 6 feet across, allowing it to soar for a long time without flapping its wings. They have a well-developed sense of smell and are attracted to the smell of mercaptan, a gas given off by decomposing animals.
--- An adult black vulture has a 5-foot wing span and cannot soar as well as the turkey buzzard. It does not have a sense of smell like the turkey vulture; instead, it depends on its sight and may follow turkey buzzards to find food.
--- Vultures flocked to Gettysburg after the three-day battle there in July 1863. Even now, nearly 150 years later, almost 1000 vultures settle each evening in the trees surrounding the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Source: "PA Wildlife Journal: Birds & Mammals," by Kim J. Young