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Feathers ruffled over turkey vulture invasion in Arvada neighborhood

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ARVADA, Colo. -- A big problem in Arvada has some residents squawking as piles of feces are piling up on their property.

In fact, it's gotten so bad one couple refuses to use their backyard patio. The culprit? Turkey vultures.

Several dozen of them have chosen a tree in Arvada as their home. The birds migrate through Colorado on their way south and will roost here from midspring until midfall.

Once they pick a tree they like, they will also return year after year to the same location to roost.

Lu and Wes Sanborn weren't happy when the flock flew in back in May and refused to leave. Bird feces and hundreds of feathers cover part of their backyard.

However, they're more concerned about their neighbors. Norm and Joanne Wagner don't remember the last time they were able to enjoy their patio.

"Would you eat on this?" Joanne Wagner said of her feces covered patio table. "I mean this is every day. This is what the birds leave when they leave every morning. Our red bricks look white."

Even worse? There's not much they can do to get rid of them because turkey vultures are federally protected and can't be hunted.

"I'd like to shoot them. They don't belong here," Joanne Wagner said.

Ann Price with the Brighton-based Raptor Education Foundation. She sympathizes with the families in Arvada, but admits there's not much they can do.

"I can understand they make a mess, so all I can really do is point out the bright side of this. Turkey vultures have no voice box, so they literally make no sound," she said.

Price also argues the birds play an important role in the ecosystem.

"We need vultures very badly. They’re endangered around the world," she said.

But that's little comfort to Joanne Wagner, who's stuck inside her home with a problem that's piling up.

"I gave up. The birds won," she said.

Experts say you can try putting metal flashing in the tree to discourage roosting. Weird objects will sometimes keep the birds away.

Coincidentally, Saturday is International Vulture Awareness Day. The Raptor Education Foundation will have a turkey vulture on display at Wild Birds Unlimited at South Wadsworth Boulevard and West Yale Avenue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. where they'll be talking about the importance of the raptors.