We have all seen the dreaded sight of buzzards circling above the calving pasture. This should cause alarm, especially with the increased presence of the black headed buzzards (technically called the black vulture).
Thanks to the help of the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, we were able to try out one of the black vulture effigies (a replica of a dead black vulture). Vultures have a strong sense of mortality and if they see one of their own dead somewhere, they tend to leave that area alone so that they too don't have the same fate.
We hung the effigy on a power pole next to the calving barn. The ideal scenario is to have the effigy next to the area you are trying to protect, and have the decoy hanging so that it is free to move with the wind. This will draw more attention to the effigy and have a stronger effect at deterring the vultures.
We made a homemade bracket to hang it off of using some scrap 2x6's for a fencing project. We used one with a knot hole so that the rope would not slide around and it would hold the rope out from the pole at a consistent length.
We used the tractor to hang the effigy so that it is approximately 10 foot off the ground.
Since hanging the effigy we have noticed that it has been successful in keeping the black vultures away from the calving pasture. We have not had any instances of black vultures landing, or harassing the new born calves. Interestingly, the effigy did not seem to deter the red headed turkey vultures. They will still land and eat baby calf manure and afterbirth. I consider this a success since the turkey vultures do not kill animals, they only eat things that are already dead.
After we finish calving we will take the effigy down so that the vultures do not get used to it being there all the time. Then next calving season we will hang it back up and hopefully we will experience the same success as we have this year. If you wish to leave it up year round it is recommended that you move the effigy to different locations to keep the vultures form getting used to it, and therefore keeping it effective.
If you are interested in building your own effigy you can follow the link below for the directions, provided by the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.