Tell-It Tuesday: How the Buzzard Got His Feathers


turkey buzzard drawing

This week’s story is a retelling of an Iroquois legend about how the Buzzard got his feathers.

                      One day, a long, long, time ago, the birds held a big council meeting.

“We can talk like people but we have no clothing,” said Eagle. “Because we are without clothes, we have become very bashful and timid, and spend all our time hiding from others. I, for one, am getting tired of doing that and would like to ask the Creator for some clothing for us.”

Many of the birds agreed with Eagle. “Who would like to volunteer to go talk with the Creator about this matter?” he asked.

There were many volunteers. Each one was considered for the qualities they brought to the journey. Finally, the birds chose Buzzard because of his ability to fly very high and for extremely long distances. This would allow him to get close to the sun-place where the Creator lived.

Buzzard left on his journey. It was a long, long way, and soon he had eaten all his food. He became so hungry that he had to eat dead fish he found along the shore to relieve his hunger.

Buzzard flew higher and higher, into the hotness of the sun. The heat was so great it burned the skin on his head until it turned bright red, but he kept going. Soon he came to the Creator.

“I heard all the bird’s prayers,” said the Creator. “And I will give you clothing. I have prepared some choices for you, and since you were the one to come all this way, you may choose which outfit you would like first. But you may only try each outfit on once.”

Buzzard looked at all the outfits the Creator had made. The first one he looked at was made of beautiful white and blue feathers. He tried it on, but it was not bright enough for him. So he sent it down to Blue jay to wear.

Then he tried on a bright yellow outfit with black markings on it. But it, too, was not what he wanted, so he sent it to Goldfinch to wear.

Buzzard tried on one outfit after another, but none of them satisfied him. Finally, there was only one outfit left.

It was too small, and Buzzard had to work hard to even get it on. His legs, feet and neck were bare because it was so small. It didn’t even cover the burnt red skin on his head. The feathers in it were not bright and pretty, but dull and dirty-brown in color.

“This is a terrible outfit,” said Buzzard, “I don’t like it at all.”

“Well,” said the Creator. “Unfortunately, it is the only outfit left, and so now it is yours.”

And so, even today, Buzzard wears his dirty brown outfit with his red head sticking out. He still eats animals that have been dead for a long time because that is what he ate on his long journey to ask for clothing.

Many make fun of Buzzard because of the way he looks and what he eats.

But Buzzard thinks about how he was the one chosen to make the long journey to ask for clothing, and he feels proud despite his looks.


Have a great day.


                                                                                                             Nature Mamaw



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