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Buzzard Day 2023: Buzzards welcomed back to Hinckley in decades-old tradition with legend dating back to 1818

Visitors gather at the Buzzard Roost every March 15 for the annual event.

HINCKLEY, Ohio — The buzzards are back!

“Every March 15, dating back to 1957, the buzzards are welcomed back to the Hinckley Reservation by the Cleveland Metroparks official buzzard spotter,” according to the Cleveland Metroparks site.

3News was there when the first buzzard appeared around 9:30 a.m. It happened at the Buzzard Roost as spotter Natalie Schroder was there for the annual event.

“It’s been really, really cold," Schroder tells 3News after the first buzzard spotting of the morning. "I think it might just have finally reached over 30 degrees. Typically it’s in the 40s already, so with that cold morning it took them even longer to warm up. Thank goodness we had sun. It could’ve been even later. With the sun finally warming their bodies enough to fly, I think 9:30, to me, sounds like a perfect first flight.”

We streamed live video from Buzzard Day, which you can watch in the player below:

While officials say the buzzards returning to Hinckley is believed to be a sign of spring, the tradition is associated with a legend that dates back more than 200 years.

“In December of 1818, when turkey vultures are still migrating down to South America, there was a large hunt where settlers who wanted to protect their crops and their farms came together and circled an area within Hinckley and killed a lot of different animals that may have been a threat to their property," Schroder explains. "Legend has it, that in the spring as those carcasses were thawing, turkey vultures came. That legend is still a legend. It does not really come to fact because turkey vultures don’t eat anything over 36 hours old, so those carcasses probably would’ve been long gone, or if they did thaw they would’ve been too sour for even these turkey vultures to eat.”

So why Hinckley?

“So the reason that the turkey vultures really come to Hinckley is actually something even more special: The ledges," Schroder says. "Worden’s and Whipp’s Ledges are so spectacular and something very uncommon. We don’t have a lot of these rocky outcrops within Northeast Ohio, and the turkey vultures have found them and they still utilize them.”

You can learn more about Worden's Ledges in the video below:

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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on March 14, 2023.

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