COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Holly Johnson never expected that her beloved, shiny SUV would become the target of vultures.
The federally protected birds have been circling a section of Colonial Heights, near American Family Fitness, several hotels, a shopping strip and the City's Animal Shelter. Not long ago the birds were roosting in and around a fenced-in lot owned by the city and adjacent to Robert E. Lee Elementary in Petersburg.
But it was in the parking lot of American Family Fitness that Johnson learned her SUV was being attacked.
"It was like the movie, Birds," she said, describing what she saw when she walked out. "They were on top of it, on the hood, tearing the windshield wipers and up on the sun roof and they tore the seal all around the sun roof and pulled half the wiper blade off".
The vultures' feast was quite expensive.
"About 125 dollars worth of damage," said Johnson, who also said she was pleasantly surprised her insurance would cover the damage.
The vultures have also damaged the roof at American Family Fitness.
Those who work nearby say seeing them is becoming a daily occurrence and now a bigger nuisance. "I couldn't get into the parking lot without
"I couldn't get into the parking lot without honking," said Megan Mason. "There was more of them than I've seen at a single time in the parking lot."
Others like Connie Pribbenow said the same thing.
After she parked, Pribbenow said she sat in her car for a minute and heard a noise.
"One landed on the trunk of my car and I honked my horn and he didn't move, so I got out of the car and yelled cause the horn didn't work to get him off my car and he got off my car but he scratched up the back of my car."
The vultures roost on a nearby tower, which belongs to the City of Colonial Heights.
"They have caused some damage to the tower and they've also caused damage to our animal shelter," said Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Boisseau.
Boisseau said the city has been dealing with the birds for several years but getting rid of them isn't a simple task.
"We are kind of limited and restricted because they are a protected species."