Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mystery solved: Vulture vs Buzzard

Some friends and I had a discussion a while back in which I claimed that vultures and buzzards were pretty much the same thing and everyone else (all European) thought I was crazy because they were obviously completely different birds. Well, a couple of weeks later I saw a taxidermy sample of a "buzzard" and I was like, "That's not a buzzard!" And the light bulb went on.

So, which of these pictures is a buzzard?

Answer: Both.

First picture: turkey vulture (Cathartes aura), a common New World vulture also called a turkey buzzard or simply "buzzard" in many parts of North America.

Second picture: common European buzzard (Buteo buteo). We North Americans would call this a hawk (we apparently use the term "hawk" quite liberally)

You learn something new every day.

I sometimes wonder how much "translation" goes on for novels crossing the pond from the UK to the US and vice versa.  And then throw in all the other countries with other variations of English and you've got a really complicated, wonderful mess.  

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