The City of Raleigh is trying out a new technique to discourage nuisance birds from damaging utility equipment in Knightdale, one of three towns that have the same problem with turkey vultures.
Raleigh is trying, but now the two taxidermied vultures seem to be missing from Knightdale’s water tower on Knightdale Boulevard. Never fear, though. The birds are still on patrol. Reacting to complaints from residents, Raleigh officials have moved the bird-like scarecrows to a position that is a little less visible – unless you’re a turkey vulture.
Raleigh hung two taxidermied turkey vultures from the tower about three weeks ago to scare other birds from perching on the tower..
The stuffed birds are one of the limited options Raleigh has since the birds are a protected species.
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Robert Massengill, assistant public utilities director for the City of Raleigh, said turkey vultures don’t affect the water in towers, but they can damage the tank and create maintenance problems.
“The fecal matter is quite corrosive on the paint,” he said. “(In Knightdale), there are businesses immediately adjacent and if the wind’s blowing a little bit one way or another, the fecal matter lands there.”
Because the city of Raleigh owns the water system in Knightdale, it fell to them to fix the problem.
The United States Department of Agriculture provided the fake turkey vultures and so far, Massengill said it seems to be working. The first night the stuffed birds were hanging, the live birds circled the tower but did not land, he said.
“I guess they assumed it’s not a safe place to land,” Massengill said.
The problem of turkey vultures is not new, but the birds hanging from Knightdale’s tower are a new effort. Massengill said some towers manage to avoid the problem because they don’t have a lot of space for birds to land, but he knows the birds have been a similar problem in Wendell and Wake Forest.
Right now, it’s too early to know if Raleigh will use the same method to help Wendell and Wake Forest, though.
“We’re a little skeptical right now and we don’t want to jump into it until we know it’s effective,” Massengill said. “We’ve heard anecdotally the birds may get used to it and come back.”
Wake Forest’s tank is downtown and the City of Raleigh has heard concerns from residents about fecal matter coming off the tower when it’s windy.
If all goes well in Knightdale, Massengill said there’s a good chance residents in Wendell and Wake Forest can expect to see similar effigies on their towers.
Massengill said the City of Raleigh hasn’t gotten completely positive feedback about the manner they’ve chosen to get rid of the birds, though.
Some residents have mistaken the fake birds for real birds and some were upset to see the stuffed birds hanging upside down.
“We’re trying to be sensitive to that but with complaints from local businesses, we had to do something,” he said.