Unlike the negative connotations when chickens are involved…having your buzzards come home to roost is a good thing. At least from my admittedly critter-centric viewpoint. When I looked across the river and saw the multiple dark forms of more than dozen turkey vultures sitting, like a troop of black-robed Lammergeier throughout the top of a large hackberry, I took them as an omen of good fortune.
In normal years turkey vultures seldom show up hereabouts before mid-March. In fact, the legend of the Hinkley buzzards and their annual March 15 return to the ledges above the Rocky River, near Cleveland, is nowadays an offbeat news story of international fame. Buzzard Sunday, held the first Sunday after March 15, attracts tens of thousands of visitors. And just like clockwork, you can expect the big birds to be winging about overhead, visible stars in the celebration.
Though I live in the southwestern corner of the Buckeye State, which is a long way from Cleveland, the vulture's yearly vernal reappearance locally generally comes surprisingly close to mirroring the March 15 date of their more acclaimed Hinkley kinfolk. This year, however—which has proven an unseasonable anomaly from the get-go—the buzzards made it back early. Real early. I saw several vultures wheeling around over a nearby field nearly three weeks ago—which, at a month before, is the earliest date ever in my experience.
Still, buzzards over a field a mile from here and buzzards at roost across from the cottage are two different matters. I was absolutely delighted to see them back along the river once again. I've enjoyed roosting vultures on the island every year since moving here. The somber scavengers are now more than trustworthy spring harbingers—I'd like to think we've become old friends.
So from one old riverbank resident to another…welcome home!