The official name of the buzzard is the Turkey Vulture, and they are large black birds weighing about four to six pounds. They have six-foot wingspans and can be seen riding thermals, searching for their next meal, where they can soar for hours without flapping their wings. The turkey vulture’s head is featherless and red and seemingly small compared to its body. It is one of the few birds with a sense of smell, enabling it to find road kill and other dead animals. This is a most necessary skill for it has neither the strength in its claws to kill nor the shape of the beak to tear into a fresh carcass.
The Cherokee Indians have given the bird the title of “Peace Eagle” because it does not kill. However, the bird’s digestive system does have the ability to kill any virus and bacteria in the food it eats. Therefore, its droppings do not carry disease. As a result, the Turkey Vulture does us a great service in sanitizing the land for if dead carcasses were left to rot, the possibility of the spread of disease is very real. This unique ability of the Turkey Vulture’s digestive system is being studied for use in the event of biological warfare, acts of terrorism or worldwide epidemics.