Appalachia Folklore Ghost Stories

The Belled Buzzards

Ever heard stories about a buzzard that flew around wearing a bell? Here’s an old newspaper article detailing one such instance:

Belled buzzard story


My first introduction to belled buzzards was from Gary Carden’s book Belled Buzzards, Hucksters, and Grieving Specters: Appalachian Tales: Strange, True & Legendary. Since I first read about them-I’ve discovered belled buzzards have been seen in several states-Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Most of the sightings or ‘hearings’ caused folks to believe the belled buzzards foretold death. One legend even tells the story of a belled buzzard harassing a man after he killed his wife. Finally the  man could take no more of the belled buzzard and turned himself in for her murder.

As I was researching the subject I found this explanation from Arkansas:

The link details a correspondence between folks discussing the phenomenon of the belled buzzards seen in Arkansas. The lady tells of her brothers bringing home a couple of buzzards to keep as pets. Their mother nixed the idea and made them let the buzzards go. Before turning them loose the boys tied bells on their necks. Makes me wonder if all the other belled buzzard sightings were the result of would be pets gone awry.

Have you ever heard of belled buzzards? I imagine it would be an eerie sound to hear one as it flew over the house.



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  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    October 10, 2020 at 9:47 am

    ‘I heard my late mother say, “He hasn’t got enough sense to bell a buzzard.” Another one was “to pound sand,” which I never understood.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    November 2, 2009 at 6:08 am

    I’ve never heard of the belled buzzards. Spooky and frightening.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    That’s an interesting story. I have never heard the story before. Wow.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    October 31, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Never knew anything about this. Thanks for doing the research and sharing it with us. Seems I’ll be listening out a lot better from now on. 🙂 xxoo

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I’m sure enjoying your spooky October series, Tipper. Now I’ve got a collection of good ones to tell around the campfire!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I have never heard about the belled buzzards, but it was interesting to read your post and I also read the correspondence through your link.
    Will check back for your spooky story. Have enjoyed reading all of your spooky posts.
    Wishing you a great weekend and a Happy Halloween.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Interesting, Tipper. I’ve never heard that story before. And I’ve never heard a belled buzzard before either.
    But you can bet that if I hear bells I will be thinking and looking for the belled buzzard.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Wow the belled buzzard sounds eerie and odd. Must be like a banshee..very interesting.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    October 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Just love these stories, Tipper! I often think we’re just too pragmatic in the city and lose sight of another “worldly, spiritual” dimension which get lost in the hustle and bustle!
    Always fascinating, Tipper! :))

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Never heard of a belled buzzard. Interesting story. I do not discount things because I’ve never seen, or in this case, heard them. I have seen too many unexplainable things to disbelieve the ones I haven’t seen, yet!!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Now that is surely a spooky story and I can say I have not heard any belled buzzards and i kinda hope I don’t.

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