Rookie question: Buzzards


March 9, 2003, 05:43 PM
I live in central Indiana and see these birds flying high overhead, circling. Usually between 2 and 5 at a time, sometimes alone. They do look for dead animals as I watched a group of 3 for several hours one day while the wife was at a baby shower. They have smooth heads and I always though of buzzards as having bald heads ala condors.

Are these birds buzzards? Does anyone around these parts hunt them? I'd imagine with their eatin' preferences, they spread some nasty disease but then, who am I to judge? :p

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Art Eatman
March 9, 2003, 09:15 PM
Yeah, buzzards don't have much in the way of feathers up top. Easier for them to keep clean.

I've read that the acids in a buzzard's stomach are about the strongest of any animal. No "bug" survives their digestive tracts...


March 9, 2003, 09:18 PM
Though some call them buzzards the are turkey vultures. They winter in central america and head north for the summer. They eat carrion but only fresh . They also have a highly developed sense of smell apparently for finding carrion in very thick jungle where they can't see the ground. Their dihedral wings ( shallow V ) make them tilt back and forth as they fly. They are one of the most efficient flyers.

March 9, 2003, 09:48 PM
Hrmm... I wonder what these birds are than have a feather-covered head? These look about like falcons but I didn't think falcons got quite this size.

Anyone in Indiana, or that drives through Indiana care to comment? You almost can't drive 30 miles without seeing them just off highways etc...

March 9, 2003, 10:00 PM Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

More closely related to Storks and Ibis etc. than to raptors, or Old World Buzzards.

Bottom Gun
March 10, 2003, 06:07 PM
There is a species of Black Vulture too. They look like their heads are feathered, but the heads are bare like the Turkey Vultures only black skin instead of pink.

We have both here. The black ones are more aggressive then the Turkey buzzards and will chase them away from a carcass.

March 10, 2003, 07:57 PM
They clean up alot of dead animals. I have even seen them eating on a road kill from time to time. In some states it is illegal to hunt them. I have heard several times that if one is flying above you and you make it mad that it will vomit on you. Imagine all that good juicy road kill juice falling from the sky on you.

March 10, 2003, 08:21 PM
You wouldn't want to shoot your garbage man would you?:confused:

Peter Gun
March 10, 2003, 10:40 PM
If you ever go to Gettysburg, you'll see an incredible concentration of turkey vultures. The legend is that after the battle they came from all over and feasted for weeks, so that to this day there is still an unusually large population. I would think that over 150yrs they might redistribute, but there do sem to be an awful lot of those buggers around that area.

March 11, 2003, 11:29 AM
We'll I'm sure dead animals in my particular area would be eaten by dogs, coyotes etc...

I'm not really wanting to go on a mass buzzard killing spree, I was mostly interested in what sort of birds they were. I really think these are different than those that have been mentioned. Their heads look fully feathered to me, not just bald black heads.

Art Eatman
March 11, 2003, 10:46 PM
I recommend you browse a Barnes & Noble, in the "bird book" section. I like Roger Tory Petersen's books.

Not only many color plates, but such aids to recognition as silhouettes of raptors in flight, for instance. Also info on nesting habitats as well as migration patterns.

Saves a lot of guessing and, "I wonder...?"

:), Art

March 12, 2003, 02:58 PM
If you see them sitting just off the road on fence posts and telephone poles and are large and fully feathered, they are probably the Red Tailed Hawks. We have a lot of the in central Indiana. They won't be seen in groups though, just singles. Buzzards hang out in groups.

March 12, 2003, 11:03 PM
Altho I realize now it was illegal, I was in the right (wrong!) place at the right (or wrong!) time and shot a buzzard with a 20 gauge when I was around 12. It almost landed on me! And stink! :( :barf: :barf: :barf: :( Granny made me bury it pronto. Learned a lesson that day. :barf:

I believe buzzards are "protected" most places. See now 'em around our place north of DFW airport just about every day. Got a 150' cell phone tower just east of range and they like to rest there. Counted 44 of 'em on tower just before sundown a couple of years back.

Art Eatman
March 13, 2003, 12:02 AM
Greybeard, I almost got myself "rained on" by a buzzard, back in my early centerfire daze. I was using swaged-down 80-grain flat-nose .32-20 bullets in my '06, in front of a whole bunch of 3031. Probably running 3,600 or better.

Ever noticed how a buzzard will soar into the wind and pause quite briefly before peeling off downwind? I had one of them do that right above me. With all the intelligence, judgement and mature wisdom of a typical 16-year-old, I just snap shot him. Center-punched that sucker!

And ran. Very quickly!

:D, Art

March 13, 2003, 12:11 AM
More ethical than lawyers.

March 13, 2003, 01:10 PM
My wife and I were doing some guided rock-climbing, and she spotted some large birds while we were setting up some anchors on a 100' cliff.

She commented to the guide "Wow, those are some really big hawks."

The guide just grinned and said, "Nope, those are turkey vultures. The like to fly around and wait for a climber to screw up."

March 13, 2003, 04:41 PM
Actually, once you get past the smell, turkey buzzard tastes a lot like chicken. They taste a whole lot better than California Condor but not near as good as Bald Eagle, Whooping Crane or Passenger Pigeon. Passenger Pigeon is by far the best but I haven't seen any around for a long time now.

six 4 sure
March 15, 2003, 01:30 AM
If you think 3-5 is neat wait till you find a roost. Very creepy/cool. I was way up in a canyon looking for a good spot to go camping when I noticed about ten of them flying. Then I saw another 20 in the trees. Thought about taking a shot to scare them, (then really thought) and honked the horn instead. Thirty of them flying in the air is something to see.


March 15, 2003, 03:46 AM
one twilight, i spooked about 30 vultures out of a group of trees at the base of Devils Tower.

me wonders if the buzzards have made it to Hinckley yet...

Buzzards: Return

For most folks, the sight of vultures usually signifies death lurking in the distance. But for the town of Hinkley, Ohio, the return of the buzzards each year means the dawn of a new season. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

We’re listening to a crowd gathered to watch the annual arrival of Hinkley’s favorite bird on Buzzard Sunday.

Bob Hinkle is chief naturalist for Cleveland Metro Parks. He’s also this year’s official buzzard spotter.

“Not the most handsome bird in the world, but I think for us here in northeastern Ohio the return of the buzzards marks the beginning of spring. The celestial calendar tells us that, next week really is the spring equinox and the official beginning of spring, but March 15 every year the buzzards come back, and for us in this part of the world, spring’s returned.”

Since 1957 the citizens of of this small town have officially commemorated the buzzards’ arrival. Dozens of people scan the skies for the first sight of V-shaped wings. But it’s still up to the official spotter to pronounce that, indeed, the birds that put Hinkley on the map have arrived.

“It’s never a buzzard till the official buzzard spotter says it’s a buzzard. And we get a lot of other birds here, too. We see crows, and a bald eagle once or twice, ospreys, hawks this morning, flying by, so it takes a pretty good eye to separate a buzzard out of all the other birds that are here. But we certainly depend on all the pairs of eyes that we have out here to scan the sky in all directions. Someone points and looks and I help verify it.”

On the weekend following the bird’s arrival, the town of Hinkley celebrates Buzzard Sunday, with displays, exhibits, buzzard spotting and a costume contest.

March 15, 2003, 03:54 AM
Living across the street from high tension power lines has yielded some interesting things (aside from the lukemia)(kidding). It's not uncommon to see 60-70 turkey vultures roos there for the night. In the morning they spread thier wings to sun (dry off the dew and warm up). Once heard an amazingly loud pop, and upon going outside to investigat found that one of those "buzzards" had gone and touched a wire while sitting on the tower. It still gripped the line, but was hanging upside down--and stank, even from 150 yds away. Took that bird two days to fall......


(Also hit one with my car once. Broken windshield and the absolute worst smelling mess to clean up (and I work in a bar). Have a friend who had to sell his truck because he couldn't get the small out of it after one flew threw his windhield)

March 16, 2003, 03:03 PM

In addition to being illegal, it would be unethical, as vultures are useful animals. They are also quite intelligent animals.

March 17, 2003, 04:35 AM
Yup, can't shoot 'em now-a-days, but long ago, you could - earlier '60s ...

"Smoked" one with an arrow once & had to recover - the only "ethical thing to do," right? Uh-huh.

Did you know that one of a "buzzards'" defense is to puke on their tormentors?

Me neither.


I thought being shat upon by a snake was bad. (which it is, BTW)

"Buzzards" is worser. ;)

Not recommended. :barf:

(specifically not posted in the "coolest thing ever seen in the woods" thread ..... )

Double Naught Spy
March 17, 2003, 08:39 AM
Here in the US, we have 2 types of 'buzzards,' the black faced and the red faced or turkey vulture. Condors are in the same family, but not considered buzzards. As noted, they are definited illegal by federal law to hunt, trap, or otherwise harm. Some states may have additional laws protecting them as well. They are NOT known for spreading disease.

March 18, 2003, 12:35 PM
OK... so no buzzard hunting...

That list that BTR posted lists six species of crow that are protected. That's news to me... I guess I need to find out what species of crow we have in Indiana before I continue my crow shooting or else I could get in lots of trouble. :uhoh:

Art Eatman
March 18, 2003, 06:31 PM
The U.S. entered into a treaty protecting some sort of migratory bird family, which they (we) didn't know included crows.

An exception to shooting crows is if they are hurting crops--corn, pecans...


Double Naught Spy
March 18, 2003, 08:22 PM
Actually, what you will find is that most birds are protected from hunting, trapping, or otherwise harming. Some are limited in being able to do them in, limited by season such as duck season. Some are always protected all the time. It is easier to compile a list of unprotected birds than protected. For example, the european Rock Dove or what we commonly consider as a typical city pigeon isn't (or used to not be) covered. Same with the european house sparrow, but other indigenous sparrows are protected.

Art may be correct that there are limited circumstances when some types maybe done in, but I can't remember any specific instances that currently apply today. Of course, it is been about 10 years since I was up on the specifics of all said laws that I had to know for having a scientific collecting permit in order to procure specimens for a university comparative collection. I ended up getting a salvage permit to collect specimens not intentionally hunted such as roadkills, powerline kills, and natural deaths. It was not a sexy job.

March 18, 2003, 09:18 PM
Buzzards Gotta Eat Too!


Or was it the The Outlaw Jose Wales?

March 18, 2003, 10:00 PM
yeah, same as the worms :evil:

March 19, 2003, 04:47 AM
An exception to shooting crows is if they are hurting crops--corn, pecans...

Hrmm... how about crows that would hurt crops if not dealt with during the off season? The two places I have shot crows are both in cornfields, and mostly when there ain't no corn...

Art Eatman
March 19, 2003, 10:07 AM
SFAIK, "would hurt" doesn't count.

The US F&WS admitted after the treaty was signed that they hadn't realized ol' Mr. Corvus was included in the migratory bird family which was to be protected.

The "during crop damage" is a fairly standard deal in a lot of animal protection laws. In Texas, in farm or goat-ranch areas where the deer population has increased beyond "reality", a permit for out-of-season pest control is fairly easily obtained.

Buzzards occasionally have one-time-event intersections with windshields of cars, but they seem to have no problem avoiding Cessna 172s. :) But they're essentially benign and useful.

Grackles, OTOH...

:), Art

March 20, 2003, 02:24 PM

In Indiana, this years Crow season is July 1 - Aug 15 2003 and Dec 13, 2003 - Mar 1, 2004.

Again in Indiana, Crows may be taken outside of hunting season only if they are damaging trees, crops, lifestock or wildlife. You may take crows with bow & arrow, firearm or falconry.

March 20, 2003, 07:44 PM
Good information... I guess I was foolishly assuming that harmful birds such as crow would not be protected in such a corn-oriented state as Indiana... I once again am in awe of the government. :banghead:

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