About the Turkey Vultures and the Living Sign ... by Cindy Beck

Thanks to two alert readers, Steven Branford, of New York, and Tom Wray, of Missouri, I now know what the holiday observance, "The Turkey Vultures Return to the Living Sign" is all about. (For a point of reference, see my blog post of March 5, 2008)

Now don't fall off your chairs in shock, but the living sign is a batch of ... taa-daa ... living trees in Canisteo, NY. Yup, seems like a reasonable place for vultures to roost, doesn't it? Certainly a better place than the town hall.

For those who are interested, I've pasted Steven and Tom's responses below, as well as a picture that Tom sent.

Steven's Response:

I, too was confused about Turkey Vultures Return to the Living Sign week! I have found the answer, and much like many mystifying names, the truth is not as exciting as our minds' creations! I almost feel like forgetting the true significance for your interpretation! Here's what was written about the holiday:

"[Celibrated [sic] by the] Entire Canisteo Valley, Canisteo, NY. Traditionally turkey vultures return on St. Pat's Day to their roosting sites in and around the world famous living sign, as mentioned in "Ripley's Believe It or Not." The sign spells our "Canisteo" using 250 trees in a ridge above Greenwood Street."

Tom's Response:

This is cool. I pull up the daily “holidays” for our department bulletin board, and ran across your funny piece on the above mysterious holiday. I did some more research (which you also may have already done), and discovered there is a “living sign” for the city of Canisteo NY, made up of over 250 Scotch Pines spelling out “CANISTEO,” on a hill behind the elementary school on Greenwood Street. Apparently the turkey vultures return to this area each year between March 11 and 17. Here’s a photo of the “living sign”:

(Photo by the Evening Tribune)

...and now you know...the rest...of the story

RIP, Paul Harvey


Thanks so much for your help, Steven and Tom, and for your vast research skills! :)

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