10 January 2014

Return of a Pilgrim Turkey Vulture

During the summer of 1870, Col. S.T. Sult, of Sultsville, Prince George's county, Maryland, a few miles below Washington, D.C., as considerably annoyed by thieving hen hawks making raids upon his chickens. Desiring to put an end to their too friendly and frequent visits, the colonel placed a large pole in his yard and fixed upon its top a steel trap, which he baited with a dead chicken. No hawk put in an appearance, but the colonel was greatly surprised one morning to find in the trap a large Turkey buzzard — a bird protected by law in Maryland from the gun of the sportsman. The suggestion was made that the bird be marked in some manner and again set at liberty. Acting on this suggestion, a good sized old-fashioned sleigh bell was procured and fastened about its neck with wire, and after a christening the bird "Maryland," it was again given its freedom. Nothing more was thought of the matter until last Sabbath, when the good people of that quiet neighborhood were startled from their noonday devotion by hearing "music in the air." A glance upward plainly revealed the cause of all the commotion, for circling far above their heads was the long-lost "Pilgrim" of eight years absence, returning to visit its old haunts, with the bell still attached to its neck. How far the bell and bird have traveled since its liberation eight years ago, is the subject of much conjecture among the farmers of that neighborhood who remember the occurrence. Colonel Sult says he reckons many poor darkey has been nearly scared out of his wits by the bird as it passed over Southern towns with the bell ringing, making those poor creatures think that the Judgement Day and Gabriel with is horn were near at hand.

For the above facts I am under obligations to my friend William M. King, a farmer living in the vicinity, who witnessed its return last Sunday, from his house. For his veracity and truthfulness, I can heartily vouch.

October 18, 1878. Return of a pilgrim. Hudson Evening Register 13(124): 3.