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Cindy L. Freeman Blog, Church of the Buzzards -1/31/19

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Cindy Freeman

Did you know that buzzards are Presbyterian by denomination? No? I didn’t either, until my husband and I moved to a condo community near a Presbyterian church. That’s when we discovered buzzards are quite devout, attending services not only on Sundays but every day of the week. Each morning and evening hundreds of the black, ominous creatures line up across the church’s roof peak and fill the surrounding trees. When the morning service ends, they glide overhead, wings outstretched in search of their daily bread, or more accurately, their daily road-kill.

I admit it. I’ve been a little creeped out by the Church of the Buzzards. Since ours is a senior community, I wondered if the foreboding scavengers knew about the advanced ages of our residents. Could they be ambulance chasers of the most sinister kind? Surely, I wouldn’t feel threatened by a row of roosting doves. I’d think they were gathering simply to witness the wedding of a couple of lovebirds. What about a row of storks? Time for a baptism, perhaps? 

Something about buzzards makes me shudder. “It seems like they’re lying in wait for someone to expire,” I remarked one day as my husband and I were walking past the Church of the Buzzards. “Do Presbyterians participate in human sacrifices?”

“Don’t be silly,” he answered. “Buzzards eat dead animals, not live humans. Besides, Presbyterians are pretty much like Methodists in their rituals. I’m sure they don’t have blood sacrifices.”

“But what if I cut my finger and they confuse me for road-kill?”

“I’ll pray for you,” he countered. “You know, p-r-e-y.”

“Very funny! Suppose their roof-top gatherings are, in fact, committee meetings where they’re planning their attack on our neighborhood. We could all perish! Get it? P-a-r-i-s-h.”

“They’re just innocent birds who’ve found a high spot for congregating. Congregating, get it?”

“Ha, ha! Well, I wish they’d buzz off!”

All punning aside, I did some research on buzzards (also known as vultures). I discovered they’re social creatures who roost in large flocks in trees and on roofs to prepare for feeding or to rest from a busy day of ripping dead flesh into shreds. They seek out high spots in residential or industrial areas to soak up the morning sun.

So, it seems buzzards aren’t necessarily Presbyterian. They could even be Catholic depending upon the height of the Catholic church nearby. Finally, I can relax since I learned their talons aren’t strong enough to carry away a carcass. They must eat their road-kill where they find it. This carcass intends to remain strong, healthy, and undecayed for a long time.  

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available from or

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