Friday, December 9, 2011

Thunder Birds of Indiana

Revisiting the thunderbird myth which runs through the Eastern Woodlands and the Great Plains we have this series of old reports and one does get the impression that the California Condor could well fit the bill as far as a likely species.  Add in the extinct teratorn and we have all we need.  I have also posted on East Coast observations of Mothman that could be the large European eagle owl.

The eagle owl is a creditable explanation for a nocturnal who is rarely seen if ever.  The rest are daylight visitors and very observable.  Yet high altitude can fool the most experienced observer.

The teenager surely saw a condor that on disturbed ran to take off.  He still got an excellent look-see.

The hard evidence pretty well eliminates arguments over some existence of such large birds.

I am more and more conscious that observers far too often see what they want to see, but that is readily countered by close encounters..

Thunderbirds in Indiana


Feather length: 28"
Widest part: 4"
Shaft length 7"

Lately I have had some association with the Indiana Paranormal Research group and I found that member Alex Evans had found a very large feather whicch she thought was a possible Thunderbird feather. I told her that I had once had a similar feather in my possession but it was smaller: it was brown (assumedly the juvenile colouration) and so was presumably from an immature bird. On my feather the shaft was nearly as large but the plume was not so long, so that the overall length was perhaps eight to ten inches less.

The one that had been in my keeping was found by some girl scout hikers in an area where "Big Bird" reports had been made in the late 1970s, and it came into my possession in 1981, in Bloomington. I had separately had a sighting together with several other family members on a family outing to the Hoosier National Forest in late-summer of 1977, North of Brown County: we were in a car when my aunt who was driving noticed an unusually large "Vulture" bird, pulled over to a rest stop, and we disembarked into an area where a few cars had already pulled over to get a better view of the bird. Going over several submitted possible "Thunderbird" photos, what I saw was most like the (anonymously-submitted) one below except I think its tail was shorter and more squared-off. As the photo shows, the bird did NOT fly as a turkey buzzard does because it holds its wings flat out horizontally and a turkey buzzard holds its wings canted up at an angle making more of a "V" shape instead.

I sent my feather sample in to Loren Coleman in I think 2006, and I heard later that he believed the feather to be from a turkey buzzard. I had previously had two other possible identifications made on the feather and neither one said it was a turkey buzzard: however, the feather being found by hikers also does not DEFINITELY tie it into any particular sightings. Some years earlier, I had previously come into possession of a couple other feathers much like it, both damaged, and there was a claim made against one of them that it had been stolen. I had also heard that there was a farmer that had an entire wing from an immature one, brown like my feather had been, and that the entire wing was larger than an eagle's wing. When I went to follow up on this, the wing had vanished from the outside shed where it had been stored, but the shed was not secured and the owner surmised that the dogs had broken in and carried it off. This would also have been circa 1980. There was a minor "Flap" of reports in Indiana during the middle-to-late 1970s at the same time as there were more famous reports in Illionois, and one report near my neighborhood in Indianapolis had a large (humansized) vulture-like creature perched halfway up a large tree, which was swaying from its weight, The description matches a 2006 sighting from the files of the Indiana Paranormal Research association as reprinted below the photo. I had made a report and submitted it to the SITU when that had been a functioning entity-in fact the Sanderson archives probably have several of my letters describing the "Flap" as it unfolded at the time.


Indiana Teen, Encounters Giant Bird in His Backyard

Here's what happened: I woke up about 6 a.m on june 2nd. I live in Lawrence Township of Indianapolis, IN. That's all I feel safe divulging for the moment.

The sun was just starting to come up and I was fixing breakfast. I let my dog outside to pee and went to use the bathroom myself. The bathroom window faces my backyard.

The lights in the bathroom were off because the sun was starting to shine through.

While I was washing my hands the sun was blocked out for a moment, like something ran in front of my window. I looked out and briefly saw something black run behind my garage.

I thought it was a person, so i went to see what it was. I ran to my backdoor and opened it. My dog was on the other side shaking. I thought the person hurt my dog so when I went outside, I grabbed a broom to take with me.

I slowly walked around the side of my garage, and that's when I saw it.

At first, I thought it was a person with something on their back. I asked "What the hell are you doing?!?" Real quick to scare and get it's attention.

The thing turned around and I came face to face with this nasty looking bird.

This thing was completely black. Like a crow. Except it was built like a vulture because of the way it stood and the way it's neck leaned forward.

And it's face looked a lot like an emu except it was all ragged and wrinkled. And it's beak was slightly curved. flew away. That's all I can say.

It's eyes were sort of a maroonish tint. Now, I'm six foot four and I was staring this thing directly in the face.

I felt like I was staring at a human being because it kept eye contact with me. It was bird-like in many ways. It kept turning it's head like it was confused as to what it was looking at. I looked down at it's feet and saw it had feet like a bird.

I was going to hit it with the broom but didn't because I didn't really know what it was or what affect hitting it with a broom would have. So, I let the broom drop.

This scared the hell out of the bird! It opened it's wings, and there was bright red markings on the inside.

It didn't make a noise, but it did flap it's wings really hard. I could feel the wind coming from the flapping and squinted my eyes.

I opened them and this thing was in my face. It smelled awful".

Additional Details

Upon further questioning, Ryan revealed that he is 17 years old. His parents were on vacation at the time of the sighting. He lives in a suburban/rural area in Lawrence Township.

He believes that the giant bird was after his daschund/yorkie mix, which is a relatively small dog. He does not want to ascribe anything mystical to the creature, but said that it was "just a big, dumb bird"--although he goes on to say that he believes that it could have taken him in a fight.

Ryan continues; "This thing also had to be taller than me (6 feet four inches) because I was looking it dead in the face when it's neck was hunched forward. It did not make any noise through it's mouth. The only noise it made was from flapping its giant wings.

When this thing took off, it ran a bit, then flew away. It went up in the air at an angle and just sort of disappeared out of my view".

He estimates the wingspan of the cryptid to have been approximately 25 feet.

Museum Mock=up for the Giant Teratorn. Giant Teratorn and Bald Eagle to Scale

Giant Teratorn Argentinavis to scale with a human being, easily matching Indianapolis witness' description. From Macmillan Book of Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Animal Life.

A Cryptid bird-Lake Erie, Ohio, ca 2 ft tall, as seen and depicted by Pastor Swope
A Thunderchick? Witness saw no tail and evidently has no flight feathers, yet is already as large as a large hawk or small eagle.

Thunderbirds would normally nest on the rocky ground in the high mountainous areas, but in a pinch could nest in dense forests instead. This would be an unusual occurance, but a baby Thunderbird would be much more likely to be observed near a population center than in its usual habitat in the wilderness.

It seems usual in Thunderbird reports that the younger ones are a lighter (reddish or yellowish) brown that darkens until they are mostly black in maturity. Sightings of adult Thunderbirds often also mention white markings, but no good determination of the pattern can be made at present. Reports arun from Alaska to Patagonia in South America, mostly in the mountainous west, but they can fly over wide areas and sightings are made very rarely all over both North and South America. Sightings typically range from a wingspan of 12 to 25 feet across but some reports make them out to be enormously larger, probably because it is hard to estimate the size of unknown objects in the air without a good reference point to measure against.

The consensus of opinion is that Thunderbirds are relic Teratorns (La Brea Tar pit Giant Vultures) and the best book written about them is the one by Mark A. Hall.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, this was my posting originally: my name is Drinnon and I own that blog. Drop me a line some time.

Incidentally, we have been running a series on Chupacabras lately and I just posted a blog about the giant bat varieties

Be sure to go back and catch up on the older postings, too

Best Wishes, Dale D.

PS, am very much interested in any proposition that might save our poor planet and any more information on Terraforming Terra would be much appreciated