Awesome Or Off-Putting: Thunderbirds

Awesome or Off-Putting
is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, medical marvels, scientific wonders, strange facts or just plain weird, weird goings-on.

This week: Cryptozoology

You’ve got your Bigfoot, You’ve got the Loch Ness Monster, and you have the less known Thunderbirds. The Thunderbird is a huge bird with a wingspan sometimes reported as being the size of a small plane. Sighting reports are rare, but they do happen. They take place from the likes of Alaska to the Black Forest in Pennsylvania.

If you should ever see one – better get your kids inside.

The Thunderbird is a term coined by American Indians describing a
giant bird of dinosaur like proportions. In some Indian mythology the
Thunderbird is said to be a spirit and an emblem of war. Sometimes
it’s reported as looking like an ancient pterodactyl, other times it’s
said to be feather covered – like an enormous man-sized version of a
hawk or an eagle. 

One sighting comes to us out of Togiak and Manokotak, Alaska circa
2002. Locals there claim the sightings to be almost commonplace. The
typical description is that the animal has a wingspan of about 14′, the
size of a small plane. They are said to look like something that flew
out of a Jurassic Park movie, having no feathers whatsoever, and being leathery in appearance. One witness is Moses Coupchiak, who told his story to The Anchorage Daily News:

"At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes. Instead
of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that’s when I
noticed it wasn’t a plane."

Coupchiak watched the creature until it disappeared over a hill,
then he radioed in to have local children pulled indoors. A second man
reported seeing what is believed to be the same super-bird. The man is
a pilot who’s sighting occurred as he flew his passenger-filled plane.
Those on board saw it too, from a distance of about 1000 feet. One of the people on board said regarding the bird:

people in the plane saw him. He’s huge, he’s huge, he’s really, really
big. You wouldn’t want to have your children out."

Our next report is from 1976 San Antonio, Texas. Three elementary
school teachers reported seeing the animal swooping over their cars as
they drove. They reported its wingspan to be between 15 – 20 enormous
feet. Its wings were said to be bony and featherless, similar to a
bat’s. Another encounter occurred when Tammy Golder was driving home
one evening with her two year old son in the car when her headlights
lit up a huge bird. She described the encounter thusly:

"It jumped and
circled over the hood, then hit the truck above the windshield on the
passenger side and flew off! It wasn’t a turkey or a vulture."

creature left a dent where it struck the car.

The next story comes from two two men – Russ Powers Jr. and Denny Eckley,
who were stopped on a road waiting for some deer to cross. Suddenly
they all darted off into the wood, leaving only a baby standing in the
road. A gigantic bird swooped in and clawed the little deer’s vitals.
The bird stood eye-level with the men in the vehicle, and looked them
over just before flying off with it’s heavy kill. Powers described the
birds physical features as having:

"a longer and less hooked beak than
an eagle, dark grayish brown plumage, thick legs, talons larger than a
man’s hand, and grayish legs."

Throughout the years some photographs of the creatures have
emerged. Most of them are decried as obvious fakes, others deserve a
deeper look. Whatever the case, the more mysteries found on our sweet
planet Earth, the more interesting of a rock it is to live on. As such, hecklerspray lumps Thunderbirds well into the Awesome category.

Read more:

Paper: Massive bird spotted in Alaska – CNN

[story by Shawn Lindseth]