How to Get A Vacant House Knocked Down: Turkey Vultures

The city has set a precedent, thanks to Fox 29’s Bruce Gordon: If turkey vultures move into a vacant home, L&I may knock it down for you.

Fox 29 - saw turkey vultures

A still from Fox 29’s report on a West Philly house invaded by turkey vultures.

Update, 5:15 p.m.: L&I’s Karen Guss says the building is indeed under demolition. She tells Philadelphia magazine inspectors had been monitoring the building for years, and made the decision to tear it down after seeing how its condition had deteriorated over the last few weeks.

Last night Fox 29’s Bruce Gordon had a report in West Philadelphia. Gordon, a William Tennent graduate, has been with Fox 29 since 1996. He’s one of the station’s elder statesmen; he’ll cover the big story of the day, do investigative reports or ask tough questions of politicians. Sometimes, like last night, he reports on turkey vultures.

Gordon’s report aired recently on Fox 29, some time after the “crews paint over dead squirrel” in Plymouth Meeting piece. It was a bit of classic TV consumer reporting: Neighbors come to the TV station about a problem no one seems to be able to fix, and the TV station gets results! Also, it was about turkey vultures at a vacant home in West Philadelphia.

You can watch the report above. Gordon interviewed residents of the 400 block of N. 50th Street in West Philadelphia. They all said they’d spotted turkey vultures — also known as turkey buzzards — squatting in an abandoned home on the block. They had camera phone footage to prove it. And, so, Gordon dove in, asking residents what it was like to be neighbors with scavenger birds. We also learned that a group of turkey vultures is called a “committee.”

And, then:

Truth be told, Gordon never did see the turkey vultures himself — just pictures and phone-videos. He tried to entice them out into the open by placing a half-eaten cheeseburger on the sidewalk. Thirty minutes later, a random bird showed up to peck at the bun.

Despite the lack of hard evidence from Gordon, he got a phone call from Licenses & Inspections about the vacant house. It is scheduled to be demolished today.

There you have it: If you want that vacant house next door torn down, all you need to do is get a committee of vultures to move in. L&I will be on it in no time.

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