The odd couple returns

Published 10:30 am Monday, June 24, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A falconer once told me he had a buzzard named Quasimodo.Among all his birds — owls, falcons, a Bald Eagle — Quasi was considered to be the smartest.

Recent backyard aviary experiences have helped me understand why.

A buzzard family began squatting in my barn last year. I saw them there a few times, perched atop the apex where storm damage left the roof peeled back. With access to the inside, I imagined they must have either established a nest or discovered ready access to the barn’s rodent population.

Email newsletter signup

This spring, they returned, and this time the “odd couple” brought a few friends.

From my desk I have a bird’s eye view of the back yard. I enjoy watching chicken antics and spying on the variety of cardinals, blue jays and sparrows that come to partake at the bird feeder.

The buzzards seem to be attracted by the activities and have begun to hoover between the barn, the pecan tree and my house, providing a rather interesting display of buzzard family life.

One day, an injured buzzard paced the lawn, dragging its right wing as it went. One of the neighborhood cats stalked a few paces behind, hoping for an easy meal but not quite bold enough to pounce on the prey nearly twice its size.

Later, the buzzard’s friends stopped by to commiserate, pacing alongside their friend while the feline found better things to do.

For many years, my daughters and I lightly referred to buzzards as “the county road crew” because they could be relied upon to clean up roadkill from our rural roads. Never before had I witnessed their social behavior so close to home.

It appears they don’t just congregate for meals. In the beginning, I wondered if they had located something dead to snack on in my yard. But when the days turned into weeks and months, I determined that the “odd couple” had identified my backyard as a haven.

And, with social media highlighting accounts of squatters taking up residence in empty homes across America, I guess the buzzards have staked their claim on my backyard barn. Thankfully they seem to be a benign presence, my own personal cleanup crew.