Thousands of buzzards have come back to winter in South Florida, but some people complain that the ugly, even frightening, birds with a wingspan of up to 6 feet have returned in unprecedented numbers.

"We joke and say, `The birds are coming, the birds are coming,' " said George Gerber, a resident of the Township condominium complex.But he says the birds are no longer a joke because they have come in such numbers. They dine at dumps, soar over parks, congregate at high-rises and even visit some of the mansions in tony Palm Beach.

"When they fly, they look like something out of Hitchcock," said Doris Howard, another Township resident.

"They're taking over," said Mildred Nierenberg, president of the Township's Applewood Village I condominium association. "It's frightening," she said, despite reassurances that vultures are considered harmless. They are known to eat only garbage and the flesh of dead creatures.

The condo's proximity to a landfill near Pompano Beach may be its attraction.

"We can hear them bouncing around on the roof at night," said Fay Sackman, who lives on the top floor of a Township building. "Sometimes they go at each other. That's making love, I guess."

"We love Mother Nature, but this is too much," said Phil Pincus, another Township resident.

"They sit and preen their feathers," said Jim Roth, a spokesman for the state Solid Waste Authority, which operates the landfill near Riviera Beach. "There are hundreds of them here. They hang out and pick through the garbage."