Gliding Garbage Men

Turkey Buzzard

Collecting garbage and shoveling out horse stalls are two jobs that were more than likely responsible for the cliché, “Its a bad job, but somebody had to do it.” When the Lord designed the nature of things, He provided for cleaning up the dead critters by giving us turkey buzzards.

Now I only know of one thing that I’ve never seen a buzzard pecking at and that’s is a dead skunk. Can’t say as I blame them, the two smells together are beyond description. The ugly black birds will land on just about anything else as soon as it is good and smelly. I guess that’s why you don’t see many of them in the winter, takes longer for things to get smelly.

I saw that Perkins fellow on TV one time prove that buzzards won’t eat something until it stinks. He was attempting to put a stop to the old story that buzzards will attack a dying critter so they can eat sooner. They put a hunk of meat in the cage when it was fresh and the birds wouldn’t touch it. When they put a piece in that was really spoiled, they pounced on it like it was candy. Now because they used a hunk of meat instead of a dying critter, I don’t know if they proved their theory for certain. But, I’ve never seen a buzzard land on anything but the smelliest dead things.

They landed on my house once. The crew said it was because of my cooking or maybe my house cleaning. I said the birds were tired and the tree was too far away and the crew had better stop being such smart mouths or they might be standing for dinner.

Now up close the buzzard is about as ugly a bird as nature ever provided, but when the weather is warm, they look like poetry. Any glider pilot will tell you to look for the buzzards when you want to start climbing. The wide winged black birds love to soar. When the sun has warmed the earth and the air begins to rise in columns, the buzzards congregate and begin to circle. They catch the updraft and ride the air higher and higher. When they reach the top, they dive off and sail for miles.

Some folks say that when you see them gathering, they are waiting for something to die down on the ground. In the summer, they circle a lot here where Sulfur Creek joins Barton. When we first moved here we’d go check along the creek thinking that a neighbor’s cow or a deer had died down there. After watching for a summer or two, we figured out that they were flying for the fun of it.

The beauty of the buzzards sometimes makes you forget how very ugly they are. The cardinal is a beautiful bird and I know one over in Drippin’ that is very aware of his looks, but that’s another story.



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Pat Gibson

Pat Gibson


A writer, an educator, a mom, a grandmother, and a great grandmother…