The Peace Eagle
My favorite bird really didn’t do much to earn its title. It’s the chickadee and the only reason it was propelled to the top was because it was my maternal grandmother’s favorite bird. Sure they are cute, but I really did not embrace them until 2000 when my grandmother died. After that, anytime I saw a chickadee I was reminded of her and it made me smile. And from there my love of those little birds with the black caps grew.
BUT– my second favorite bird earned its right on its own volition. And, unlike the chickadee, I think it’s a less traditional candidate. It’s the turkey vulture or, as I indiscriminately call them and black vultures, buzzards. I ran into a few yesterday as I drove to Deerfield Bike Path for a walk.
I love these birds. A buzzard’s floating silhouette was a near constant fixture in sky when I was a child. They always looked so tranquil. Now whenever I see a buzzard above, I feel closer to my family and closer to home.
Turkey Vulture (Photo by Ms. Kathleen)
On the subject of childhood, buzzards evoke a memory that still makes me smile. One day my father was especially displeased with my younger brother. I was out in the yard with a gruff Dad, and he noted a group of buzzards circling above us.
“They know I’m about to kill Jay,” he said. 🙂
Buzzards are also sentimental to me on the emetophobia front. In winter 2002, I was visiting my parents and had a horrible bout of anxiety and appetite loss. One morning my father asked if I wanted to go to breakfast. To me, that was a terrifying request (and not because he suggested McDonald’s).
“I don’t know,” I said with tears in my eyes, “What if I get there and I’m not hungry?”
My father was not phased by this obstacle in the least. “Well, then we bring it home and feed it to the dogs!”
Sounded easy enough. I got in the car and went with my father to McDonald’s. I cautiously ate a few bites of a Yogurt Parfait before my fearful esophagus would swallow no more.
On our way back, Dad got enthusiastic, “Oh Vicky, you’ve GOT to see this!”
He took a few turns and suddenly we were at a townhouse development. Typical to Northern Virginia architecture, all the houses looked exactly the same. But then there was one house in the row that stood out. The roof was COVERED with buzzards… and subsequently had its fair share of buzzard crap as well.
“There are here every morning,” Dad said, “And then after lunch, they go and fly across the river.”
We laughed and pointed and laughed some more. We speculated. What was it about that ONE townhouse that made it such an appealing roost? How come they didn’t sit on any of the adjacent townhouses? Did they used to have a tree in the same spot? Do the owners of the house know they have visitors while they are away?
Eventually, we returned back to the car where the yogurt was waiting in the cup holder. I was now relaxed and happy and as we drove back to the house and continued to marvel about buzzards, I finished every bit of my breakfast.
Vicky’s unlikely hero (Photo by Vicki and Chuck Rogers)
“Turkey vulture” and “buzzard” aren’t exactly appealing terms. The scientific name is a little better– Cathartes aura where cathartes means “purifier”. But I think the Cherokees came up with the best name. They call the birds “Peace Eagles” because buzzards don’t kill to eat. They simply recycle.
From my perspective, “Peace Eagle” is the perfect name! When I see a buzzard gliding around in the sky, “peaceful” is definitely a word I would use to describe their flight. Their ability to make me think of my family and feel as if I were home again brings along a sense of ease, a feeling of peace. And one day way back in 2002 when even a meal was a scary notion, it was a group of buzzards who brought me the most important type of peace.
Peace from one’s own mind.