When Statesboro resident Delia Mobley looked out her bedroom window Monday, she saw an unusual sight.
Perched on a pine tree limb, a turkey vulture, commonly known by the misnomer “buzzard,” was preening. Protruding from its back was an arrow.
She snapped a quick picture and posted it on Facebook with this caption: “Was wondering what coward in our neighborhood may have done this? … Who shoots at an animal that is not even edible??”
The bird appeared to be unfazed by the arrow, which looks to have been aimed at a downward angle.
It wasn’t the only vulture seen in the area with an arrow in its body. Another person posted on Mobley’s page stating a turkey vulture had been seen in the Saddle Creek subdivision area with an arrow in its head. Saddle Creek is less than a mile from the Forest Heights Country Club area where Mobley spotted the wounded vulture.
“I think it’s probably big boys” who did this, she said. “High school or college kids, not little children. “
While the term “buzzard” is incorrect, most people know these birds by the misnomer, Georgia Department of Natural Resources spokesman Rick Lavender said.
“There are two types of vultures in our area – black vultures and turkey vultures,” he said.
The wounded bird is a turkey vulture, noted so because of its red, bald head that gives it some resemblance to a turkey.
According to vulturesociety.homestead.com, “In America, the term "buzzard" is often employed incorrectly to describe vultures. This probably dates back to the arrival of the first English colonists. There are no vultures of any type in England, so these pioneers probably gave the common term ‘buzzard’ to all the soaring figures above the New World.”
The turkey vulture is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, Lavender said. This means it is illegal to kill this species in the U.S. If convicted, a person who wounds or kills one of these birds could face federal as well as state charges, he said.
Vultures have the reputation of being nasty, despicable birds because “they eat carrion,” Lavender said. “Dead or decaying animals. It’s their natural role to do something most people don’t want to deal with” in cleaning up the environment of rotting animal carcasses.
“I don’t like buzzards,” Mobley said. “They’re nasty, but they serve a purpose.” She said she doesn’t agree with someone shooting animals for no good reason, especially if they do not intend to eat it.
Anyone with information about the shooting of these vultures by someone using a bow and arrows is asked to contact the Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Office in Metter at (912) 685-2145.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.