Marie Allen has had a large flock of buzzards roosting in the trees just behind her home on Old Still Road in Pembroke for more than a year.
"It started with a handful, but now more and more keep coming. I’m worried about the children playing in the neighborhood and what might happen to them, and the smell is terrible, especially since we haven’t had much rain," she said.
Allen said the birds’ morning and evening roost could set a clock. "They are there first thing in the morning, then around 9 am they take off, but at 5:30 p.m. they are flying back in, circling overhead and fighting for a position on the tree branches," she said.
"I know I can’t hurt them because they are protected, but I’ve tried popping fire crackers and making loud noises to make them go away," Allen continued. "Nothing has worked. My neighbor said he’s called the Department of Natural Resources in Brunswick, but nobody has come out here to help yet."
Rick Lavender of the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that buzzards are protected as birds of prey so it is illegal to kill them. He said flocking buzzards have happened in other areas, but he hasn’t heard of them roosting for more than a year.
People with this problem are usually referred to the Wildlife Service Group at 706-546-5637, he said.
Todd Schneider, a biologist and bird specialist with the non-game conservation department of DNR said buzzards are not usually a problem and are generally harmless to people unless the birds are making a mess.
"Sometimes they will pluck shingles off of roofs and windshield wipers off cars, but that doesn’t happen a lot," he said.
He said the birds have a tendency to roost around power line corridors, areas of water, groups of trees and dumpsites where they can feed regularly.
"Sometimes they come back year after year and can roost in the thousands in areas such as state parks, but it’s not common for them to roost in great numbers in neighborhoods," he said.
Schneider said in large numbers and a great amount of droppings, it’s possible for someone get a lung infection called Histoplasmosis, that is caused by a fungus in the droppings being disturbed and then breathed into the lungs, but that usually only occurs in more confined areas and not so much out in the open.
Allen said she wants the birds to go away and not come back.