This year, Schuh said, there must have been 150 birds, mostly turkey vultures with a few black vultures tagging along. The overflow started roosting in bare oak trees in a neighbor's yard, though the scavenging raptors prefer evergreens.
The family had tried banging pots and using lights to drive them out. "They'd go away," Schuh said, "and they'd come right back."
Finally, she and her husband, Richard, went to the township and appealed for help.
Officials there got the ball rolling, and on Jan. 31, Nicole Rein, a U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist, arrived in Schuh's backyard with a frozen turkey-vulture carcass in hand.
She strung it up high in the pines, upside-down with its wings spread.
Vultures eat carrion, but they clearly don't like the sight of their own dead.
"It is an unnatural position and is a visual deterrent," Rein said of the carcass, which is called an effigy and recalls the not-so-ancient practice of leaving executed pirates hanging until they rotted away as a warning to others.
Vultures roost from November through April, gathering at dusk and flying off together in the morning.
Schuh said she looked up in the sky that afternoon and saw three vultures circling, then more, until they numbered about 100.
"They kept circling like they didn't know what to do," she said.
They did not land and have stayed away since, though Schuh says she has noticed them in other parts of town.
Rarely seen in New Jersey in the early 20th century, turkey vultures have taken up residence in the state in increasing numbers as the birds expanded their range north, followed in the 1970s by their smaller companions, the black vulture.
Because of their association with death, they have an undeserved reputation, said Jack Connor, who has studied vultures and written about them for Living Bird, the magazine of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
"I think they're cool," said Connor, who can see a roost from the back deck of his home in Port Republic, N.J.
They perform an important job and pose no direct threat to humans, he says in their defense.
"They consume a lot of rotting stuff," Connor said. "They're the garbage patrol."
But they also can cause problems.
They are known to peck at rubber roofs common on commercial buildings and to tear at window caulking and seals on cars. And, of course, there is their white, foul-smelling, and highly acidic guano, which can eat through roof shingles. According to the USDA, accumulations of vulture droppings on electrical transmission lines can cause arcing and power outages.
But because the birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other laws, special permits are needed to kill vultures or to destroy their nests or eggs.
The other alternative is deterrence, which is where Rein comes in.
She said the Mount Holly effigy was the fifth she had put up this winter in the state, including one in Cape May County.
"It's the most effective method," she said.
They should remain hanging until April, she said, and there is no guarantee the vultures won't return next year. A permit is required to obtain a dead bird from the USDA, but there is no obstacle to hanging a homemade one made from a Halloween prop or from nonvulture feathers.
Meanwhile, in Wenonah, Gloucester County, they are wondering what happened to their vultures.
From 2005 through last year, the town hosted the East Coast Vulture Festival in March to raise money for environmental programs at area schools. But it has been canceled this year.
Organizers did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment, but they say on their website that, as of December, the vultures were not roosting in Wenonah.
"No permanent decision has been made on the future of the festival," the website message says, adding, "Organizers are exploring the possibility of moving the festival to another nearby community where vultures are still actively roosting."
Mount Holly, perhaps?
Contact Joseph Gambardello at 856-779-3844 or email@example.com.