Leesburg’s vultures have vamoosed. For now.


Vultures on a tree behind Mayfair Drive in Leesburg, before the fireworks started. Literally. The USDA said the vultures’ excrement had stripped that tree bare. More than you wanted to know? (Tom Jackman/The Washington Post)

— Warren Zevon, “Werewolves of London”

Oh no they haven’t.

The committee of about 200 vultures that anointed the Mayfair neighborhood of Leesburg as their winter roost has relocated. Five days of small bottle rocket-type scaring devices, and more likely the actual effigy of one of their brethren hanging in the trees, have compelled the New World black vultures to beat it out of town.

But Leesburg long-timers say vultures have been haunting the town for years with their spooky skulking and acidic pooping. They’ll likely be back, though no one knows why this particular part of suburban Loudoun is the preferred hang. And it’s worth noting that they perform a valuable task, removal and disposal of dead animals, that none of us wants to do.

Carol Bannerman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that after one week of anti-vulturing, “it appears they’re not coming back to Leesburg.” Town police Lt. Jeffrey Dube, whose headquarters is just down the street from the Mayfair Drive vulture roost, said he had seen “a vulture or two but nothing like what we had.” They are monitoring and will call on the USDA again if needed.

And the effigy of the dead vulture, which apparently was deceased in compliance with all federal rules and regulations protecting vultures, will remain, Dube said.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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