Old Turkey Buzzard

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Really amazing footage and wonderful music by José Feliciano about turkey vultures, from the movie, Mackenna’s Gold — is this a film I must see? You tell me! [5:24]

“There’s an old story.
The way the Apaches tell it…
…a man was riding in the desert
and came across a vulture…
…the kind they call turkey buzzards
in Arizona, sittin’ on a rock.
“Hey”, the man says, “how come you
old turkey buzzard’s sittin’ here?
“I saw you flying over Hadleyberg,
and I didn’t want to meet up with you…
“…so I turned around and come this way”.
Old turkey buzzard says:
“That’s funny,
I was only passing through that town.
“I was really coming over here
to wait for you”.”
Old Turkey Buzzard
Old Turkey Buzzard
Flying, flying high
He’s just awaiting
Buzzard’s just awaiting
Waiting for something down below to die
Old buzzard knows that he can wait
‘Cause every mother’s son has got a date
– a date with fate, with fate
He sees men come he sees men go
crawling like ants on the rocks below
The men who scheme, the men who dream and
die for gold on the rocks below
Gold, gold, gold
They just got to have that
Gold, gold, gold
They’ll do anything for gold
“A thousand years ago, in the Southwest,
there was an Apache legend.
It told about a hidden canyon, guarded
by the Apache gods and rich with gold.
As long as the Apaches kept the canyon
a secret and never touched the gold…
…they would be strong, powerful.
That was the legend.
When the Spanish Conquistadores came,
they searched for that canyon.
They called it “Canyon Del Oro”,
meaning Canyon of Gold.
But they never found it.
Three hundred years later,
the Americans came.
They heard about the legend, but they
called the canyon, “The Lost Adams”.
That was because a man named Adams
saw it once, or so he said.
But whether he did or not,
he never saw anythin’ again…
…because the Apaches
burned out his eyes.
Everybody knew about that legend
and a lot of people believed it.
Canyon Del Oro. The Lost Adams.
And then for a while there, back in 1874,
they called it, “Mackenna’s Gold”.”
Old Turkey Buzzard
Old Turkey Buzzard
Flying, flying high
He’s just awaiting
Buzzard’s just awaiting
Waiting for something down below to die
Old buzzard knows that he can wait
‘Cause every mother’s son has got a date
– a date with fate, with fate
He sees men come he sees men go
Crawling like ants on the rocks below
A wiff of gold and off they go to die
Like rats on the rocks below
Gold, gold, gold
They’ll do anything for gold
Gold, gold, gold
Gotta have Mackenna’s gold.”

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Old Turkey Buzzard

  1. RM says:

    I don’t know about the movie, but hearing Jose sing made we want to watch Chico and the Man.

  2. jeanette says:

    Hi Devorah! I haven’t seen the movie so can’t comment if it’s a “must see” movie or not but I love the song and the scenery. Also, I think the last line in the song is: “Gold Gold Gold, Gotta have Mackenna’s gold!…” (rather than “They’ll have MacKenna’s gold”) so you might want to correct that last line.
    Also, I was a little puzzled by why they talk about Apaches and Apache legends in the song when the area they were filming seemed to Navajo territory but I found out that the Navajos were often referred to as “Apaches” in the old days because many tribes up there were of ancestral “Apachean” lineages.
    Have a great weekend!–Jeanette

  3. jeanette — thanks for the correction.

  4. Diann MacRae says:

    They may have liked the sound of “turkey buzzard,” but the bird(s) shown were certainly no turkey vultures/buzzards. The last was a nice view of a California condor!