Why People Call Vultures Buzzards

A lot of people in the South use the word “buzzard” to describe our native vultures, especially the turkey vulture, but this is actually the result of a long-lasting mistake!

“Buzzard” doesn’t mean vulture. Instead, it’s a British name used for any of dozens of species of hawk. As the name might suggest, the most well-known buzzard is the common buzzard, which ranges throughout Europe and some parts of Africa and Asia.

Vultures don’t live in Northern Europe, so, when English speakers first arrived in what is now the U.S., they had never seen one. They applied the name “buzzard” to any large, circling bird they saw, and the misnomer still persists today!

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