THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Each year, on March 15th, Hinckley, Ohio
witnesses the clock-like return of some 75 turkey
vultures to their roost trees by the cliffs and the
caverns of Old Whipps Ledges in the Northeast
corner of Medina County.
Although the legend goes back 150 years it was
only in 1957 that Walter Nawalaniec, a police
officer for the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Sys-
tem told Cuyahoga Valley Press reporter Bob
Bardner that he had personally "clocked-in" the
birds every March 15th for the previous six years.
decessor on the police force for Hinckley reserva-
deccessor on the police force for Hinckley reserva-
tion, the late Charlie Willard, had watched them
come, always on that day."
The Cleveland Press picked up the story and
printed it February 15, 1957.
The story carried Nawalaniec's prediction of
the buzzai'ds return in exactly one month.
"Old timers, naturalists, ornithologists, editorial
writers, reporters, radio announcers, movie and
television cameramen, got into the act as the
tension built up over the following month," wrote
Bordner in his definitive work on Hinckley's buz-
zards. "The History of the Legend of the Buzzards
of Hinckley Ridge."
The following Sunday, as expected by park of-
ficials, a great throng of sight-seers descended
on Hinckley. There were not. enough police to
handle the traffic.
Because of the chaos the enterprising chairnan
of the local "Chamber" (of Commerce) began
planning early for what he knew was a forthcom-
ing financial bonanza.
By next year the women of the township were
organized into labor squads and a pancake kitchen
was set up at the schoolhouse.
Displays were on show for the visitors, the
schoolchildren painted pictures and decorated
classrooms and the volunteer firemen helped di-
Buzzard Day 1971, 14 years later, was notable
for its lack of buzzards, however. Les (above, cen-
ter) informed us on arrival that the Buzzards,
unaccustomed to making public appearances,
were unlikely to appear.
So the visitors could see at least some buzzards,
Dave Bitner of the Cleveland Museum of Natural
Science was on hand with three of his birds.
Outside of town,
ground thousands of
police stood around,
at the buzzards' roosting
tourists and an entourage of
looking for buzzards without
Eventually a sheriff's car pulled out and Bitner,
with a buzzard on his shoulder, got out and
waded through the mud so everyone could take
But buzzards or no, everyone had goodtimes in
Hinckley that day. The Chamber of Commerce
president was interviewed by the television men
from Cleveland while the community stood tall
and had Ohio to lunch.
This page by Jim Judkis and Jonathan Miller