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  • Writer's pictureJace Shoemaker-Galloway

Happy Buzzard Day: Annual ‘fowliday’ is for the birds!

While March has seen its fair share of traditional and unusual holidays, this “fowliday” has, well, gone to the birds! It's Buzzard Day, an annual event with an interesting “tail.” Folks have been flocking to Hinckley, Ohio, to watch buzzards, also known as turkey vultures, return from their winter hiatus.

The Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818

Legend has it that buzzards first flew into Hinckley to feed off the animal scraps after the Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818. Fed up with wild animals injuring and killing their livestock and ruining their crops, about 600 settlers armed with guns, fired shots into the forest and killed 300 deer, 21 bear, 17 wolves and a slew of raccoons, foxes and turkeys on December 24, 1818. And that’s where the buzzards come in. Like a scene from a Hitchcock flick, flocks of turkey vultures swarmed the area to devour the leftover and rotting flesh.

The Legend of Buzzard Day

For 29 years in a row, the buzzards reportedly swooped into the town like clockwork each March 15. When a reporter got wind of the story, he wrote an article about it in the Cleveland Press. After the article was published, speculation grew. And on March 15, 1957, more than 9,000 naturalists, ornithologists, reporters and the curious went to the small town to see if the story was in fact true. They waited and waited and waited some more, but nothing happened. Finally, at about 2:00, the sky filled with buzzards and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the ugly carrion scavengers with a six-foot wingspan clean up and devour what is left behind. Turkey vultures do not kill.

America Celebrates Buzzard Day and Buzzard Sunday

Buzzard Day continues to be celebrated on March 15. The following Sunday is known as Buzzard Sunday. People still visit the town to see the big birds return to Buzzard Roost.

On Buzzard Sunday, folks participate in all sorts of festivities including a craft fair, various contests, demonstrations, displays and other family fun events. Besides Buzzards Bingo, there is even a Buzzard Beer Tent! And best of all, most of the activities are free!

Here come the birds!

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