Just as the swallows return each year to Capistrano, so have the buzzards returned to Hinckley, Ohio.
The first of the carrion-eating birds -- which are actually turkey vultures -- was spotted at 6:21 last Friday morning. That's the earliest the birds have shown up at the park just southwest of Cleveland in the annual rite of spring.
Official buzzard spotter Bob Hinckle said there's no truth to the rumor that the scavengers never left this year because the winter was so mild. "No, I can guarantee they did leave," he told WTAM, Cleveland. "Absolutely they did."
Hinckle admits the buzzards left later than usual last fall because of the warm weather but said as soon as their food was gone, so were they.
Legend has it the birds show up like clockwork each March 15 hoping to find carrion frozen during the long winter beginning to thaw.
BOYS WILL BE GIRLS
Who says Britain's Conservative party is stuffy and out-of-touch? The world's longest-established political party is about to field its first transsexual election candidate -- in the form of Rebecca Batty, 38, who is running for Haringey in the London municipal elections in May. She had a sex change operation 10 years ago, six years after joining the party in the days when it was led by the ultimate role model of women in politics, Margaret Thatcher.
(From UPI Hears)
TORTILLAS IN SPACE
The Tortilla Industry Association (TIA) and NASA's Space Place Program have teamed up to sponsor "Power Up with Tortillas,"' a national contest to teach students how to eat a healthy diet and have fun in the process.
The "Power Up" contest is aimed at teaching children how energy is necessary to keep things moving in everything from the space shuttle to humans. Participants creatively use a tortilla either in a recipe or to "build" a spacecraft. First, second and third place winners in both categories will each win $4,000, $2,000 or $1,000 U.S. savings bonds courtesy of TIA. The first 1,000 entrants will also receive a set of Space Place collectible cards.
The Space Place is a NASA-sponsored nationwide space and space science education initiative. The program encourages young people to participate in cross-curriculum space science activities that provide hands-on learning opportunities through a number of national organizations dedicated to the education and well being of children and youth. The Space Place program provides space science and technology-related activities and materials to its national partners -- Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YWCA, International Technology Education Association, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Civil Air Patrol, and the 4-H Aerospace Education Program.
According to TIA officials, tortillas are a long-time favorite food among astronauts due to the fact that they are easily transported into space, do not crumble in zero gravity and are a good source of nutrition.
(Web site: tortilla-info.com)
REASONS TO CELEBRATE THIS WEEK:
MONDAY: Today through March 24 is Anonymous Giving Week.
This is Forgive Mom & Day Day. (Web site: wellcat.com)
Aruba celebrates Flag Day today.
And it's Canberra Day in Australia.
TUESDAY: The swallows traditionally return to the old mission at San Juan Capistrano, Calif., today.
And this is National Day of Oil in Iran, commemorating the nationalization of the country's oil fields in 1963.
WEDNESDAY: Spring begins today at 2:16 p.m. EST in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Great American Meatout is today, asking people to kick the meat habit at least for the day. (Web site: meatout.com)
This is National Agriculture Day. (Web site: agday.org)
It's Proposal Day, encouraging single adults seeking marriage to propose marriage to their true love today.
Japan celebrates the arrival of spring with Vernal Equinox Day.
And this is Independence Day in Tunisia.
THURSDAY: This is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day. (Web site: campfireusa.org)
Today is also Single Parents Day.
The Iranian New Year, or Noruz, is celebrated today. The Baha'i New Year celebration of Naw-Ruz is also today. (Web site: bahai.org)
It's National Tree-Planting Day in Lesotho.
Namibia celebrates its Independence Day today.
And this is Human Rights Day in South Africa.
FRIDAY: This is As Young As You Feel Day. (Web site: wellcat.com)
The International Day of the Seal, as declared by Congress in 1982, is observed today.
It's International Goof-Off Day. Everyone -- some more than others -- needs one special day just to goof off.
India celebrates New Year's Day today.
This is Emancipation Day in Puerto Rico, commemorating the end of slavery in 1873.
And the United Nations observes World Day for Water today.
(Thanks to Chase's 2002 Calendar of Events)
BY THE WAY...
Grover Cleveland, born on this date in 1837, was the first U.S. president to serve two non-consecutive terms of office. He was also the first American president to do what?
Cleveland was also the first U.S. president to marry while in office. His daughter was the first child of a president born at the White House.