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Friday, March 18, 2016

Why do the buzzards come to Hinckley?

Spring officially began on March 20, but it unofficially began on March 15 in Hinckley with the annual return of the buzzards (technically known as turkey vultures) to Hinckley Reservation. According to the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, the buzzards’ return was first pointed out by patrolman Walter Nawalaniec in 1957. He had been noticing them for six years, and his predecessor on the force had seen them fly in every March 15 for twenty-five years prior. Nawalaniec related the story to a Cleveland Press reporter and a local historian in February of 1957. The buzzards came back that year and every year since.

Why do they come to roost in Hinckley? No one’s sure. In a post on the Cleveland Metroparks blog, Foster Brown put forth two possible reasons. According to the first, more likely theory, Hinckley’s river, lake, ledges, and tall trees make it an ideal habitat for the buzzards, with nearby woodlands and farms providing a source of food. The second has the ring of legend to it. As the story goes, an enormous hunt in 1818 resulted in a pile of hundreds of animal carcasses, a veritable buzzard feast. Every year since then, the buzzards have come back in the hopes of finding more food set out for them.

For more information, check out Bruce G. Peterjohn’s The Birds of Ohio or Bill Thompson III’s Ohio Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide, both available at the Newton Falls Public Library. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Can I use "til" or "till" instead of "until"? Which one is correct?

English is a strange language. Words are easily confused and their meanings aren’t always intuitive. It looks as though “til” is short for “until” and “till” is an entirely separate word, but that’s not exactly the case.

“Till” does have a few different meanings. It can refer to a supply of money or the act of cultivating land. It can also be used interchangeably with “until.” In fact, all three are correct. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “till” developed from the Old English “til.” The “un-” (meaning “up to”) in “until” was added later. In the 18th century, “’till” was the trendy spelling, as though the word were an abbreviation of “until” and not a word in its own right.

Anyone looking to further their understanding of English grammar is welcome to check out Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Mary Norris’s Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, or Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas’s The Grammar Bible. All of these books are available for borrowing at the Newton Falls Public Library.