To Native Americans, the vulture or buzzard was one of the more prevalent animals. It was known to clans across the country. This bird is credited with assisting in some of the more important tasks Рincluding the creation of the land and the efforts to bring fire to the first people.   Many people fear or are disgusted by vultures, but this Native American legend about the vultures may change your view of this amazing bird.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura close up detail of head Rio Grande Village Big Bend National Park, Brewster Co., Texas 5 May 2010

In the earliest of times, the sun lived very close to the earth Рso close in fact that life upon the earth was becoming unbearable. The animal world got together and decided to do something  about it. They wanted to move the sun further away.

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The fox was the first to volunteer, and he grabbed the sun in his mouth and began to run to the heavens. After a short while, the sun became too hot, burning the fox’s mouth, and he stopped. To this day, the inside of the fox’s mouth is black. Then the opossum volunteered. He wrapped his tail around the sun and began running toward the heavens. Before long though, the sun became too hot, burning its tail, and he had to stop. To this day the opossum has no hair upon its tail.

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It was then that vulture stepped forward. Vulture was the most beautiful and powerful of birds. Upon its head was a beautiful mantle of rich feathering that all other birds envied. Knowing that the earth would burn up unless someone moved the sun, the vulture placed its head against it and began to fly to the heavens. With powerful strokes of its wings, it pushed and pushed the sun further and further up into the heavens. Though it could feel its crown feathers burning, the vulture continued until the sun was set at a safe distance in the sky away from the earth. Unfortunately, vulture lost its magnificent head of feathers for eternity.

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