The buzzards (turkey vultures) of Hinckley, Ohio, return like clockwork on this day each year. Their uncanny return to Hinckley Ridge on March 15 has been the subject of folk legends dating back nearly 150 years. It seems that no one paid them much attention until a reporter, in 1957, from the Cleveland Press took an interest. When his article about the buzzards appeared in the paper along with the prediction that they would return on exactly March 15, interest in the birds mounted. By the time March 15 arrived in Hinckley, so did the buzzards-right on time. The news traveled fast, bringing media from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The small township of Hinckley was unprepared for the more than 9,000 bird watchers that ultimately descended upon them. From that day on, the town dedicated March 15 to the Buzzards of Hinckley. The town council immediately made plans to deal with the throngs of people that would return every year along with the buzzards. In time, the fame of the Hinckley buzzards spread. Today, their legendary return rivals stories of the “Swallows of Capistrano.”
An old manuscript account by William Cogswell, one of the first white men to set foot in the county in 1810, made several references to “vultures of the air” at the gallows of the Big Bend in the Rocky River, where an Indian squaw had been hung for Witchcraft. Then again in December of 1818, there is reference to the “Great Hinckley Varmint Hunt.” More than 475 men lined up along Hinckley’s 25-square-mile perimeter and began moving inward to rid the area of predatory animals killing livestock. It is believed that the tons of butchered refuse attracted the vultures. No one really knows for sure what the enticement is, but every year on March 15 the buzzards of Hinckley return.