bell a buzzard v phr Also bell a bull (or buzzer, cat, cow, goose) [It is clear from scattered 19th- and early 20th-century accounts that buzzards were occasionally belled and released, and that such birds were regarded by some with superstitious fear, but nothing in these accounts explains why the practice should have been regarded as self-evidently desirable or simple.] chiefly Mid Atl, S Atl See Map
To do the most obvious or simple task—usu in phr not have sense enough to bell a buzzard and varr.
1895 Short Stories 18.281 sAppalachians, That Bill Pebbly “didn’t have sense enough to bell a buzzard,” was a saying on the mountain. 1919 Galveston Daily News (TX) 24 Feb 4/4, What could it profit Mr. Edison to spend sixteen hours a day in his workshop and never know that the State Press rotted in jail for saying that the Kansas legislator above mentioned hasn’t got sense enough to bell a buzzard with a tin can and a bunch of baling wire? 1965–70 DARE (Qu. JJ15a, Sayings about a person who seems to you very stupid: “He hasn’t enough sense to _____.”) 39 Infs, chiefly Mid and S Atl, Bell a buzzard; FL33, VA51, Bell a bull; VA65, 102, Bell a buzzer; FL26, GA7, Bell a cow; NC7, 84, Bell a (or the) cat; FL31, Bell a goose. 1971 Wilmington Morning Star (NC) 16 Aug 1/4, Overheard in a filling station was the remark, “He don’t have sense enough to bell a buzzard.” Now there is one that will make a journey speed by as one tries to conjure up why belling a buzzard would be an indication of good sense or the lack of same. 2006 in 2016 DARE File—Internet ceVA, My father-in-law had many interesting sayings from the Northern Neck of VA. One of the most unique was “He doesn [sic] not have enough sense to bell a buzzard”. He did not know the origin of the saying. 2014 Ibid cnTN, I’ll swear, I believe that there are some folks that do not have the brains to bell a buzzard. . . I was not thrilled to see that the delivery person put the material in the only access point in the back yard. 2014 DARE File eVA, We also grew up with the term “bell a buzzard,” as in “He’s not smart enough to bell a buzzard.”