Big Birds of a Feather

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on July 23rd, 2007

This is an interesting news piece that does not ridicule the subject of cryptozoology.

Click on the link below to watch the video, including the interview of our favorite resident skeptic, Ben Radford.

Big-bird encounter one for the books

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (July 19, 2007) – Myths and legends about creatures from the Chupacabra to the Jersey Devil to Bigfoot are everywhere, but in southern New Mexico and parts of Texas people say they’ve seen birds so big they seem prehistoric.

One man claims the rugged landscape near Las Cruces hides a mystery that’s haunted him for years.

Dave Zander has lived near the Doña Ana Mountains for more than 30 years spending almost all his spare time hiking, exploring and fossil hunting in the range between the Robledo and Organ mountains.

He saw something that he’s unable to explain and many people find hard to believe.

He recalls the day nine years ago when he spotted something extraordinary: two creatures perched on a mountain less than a mile away.

“These creatures were so huge they looked like the size of small planes,” Dave Zander said. “All of the sudden one of them jumped off dropped off the top of the mountain, came down the front of the mountain and all the sudden these huge wings just spread out.

“I would say the wings were at least a 20-foot wingspan.”

Definitely something out of the ordinary.

“Not a normal bird, definitely of a giant variety,” Zander continued. “”It makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to.”

Zander witness a real-life scene out of the movie Jurassic Park?

One ancient bird in the vicinity is an Andean condor living at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque. But it’s wingspan of 12 feet pales to what Zander described: birds with an unprecedented twenty-foot wingspan, with pink bald heads and all-black bodies, and feathers on their enormous wings.

There is nothing on modern record like it.

“In comparison a 20 foot wingspan would truly be a monster and something undocumented by science,” cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard said. “I believe what Dave Zander may have seen are surviving teratorns.”

Gerhard has made a career studying prehistoric birds.

“What’s interesting the reports of these giant raptor-like birds to continue into modern times,” he said. “We seem to have a large concentration of them here in the Southwest particularly in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as well as New Mexico and parts of Arizona.”

Gerhard documented many of these strange reports from all over the globe in the book “Big birds! Modern sightings of flying monsters.”

The book includes sightings in different clusters over the past 30 years.

In 1972 in Maxwell in northeastern New Mexico, Ronald Monteleone of Trinidad, Colo., reported what he thought was a pterodactyl flying out of an arroyo.

In Lordsburg in the 1800s locals talked constantly about the sightings of pterosaurs.

And a picture circulated the country in 1890 out of Tombstone, Ariz., but it’s never been considered totally legitimate.

“Other eyewitnesses are describing specifically giant feathered dark birds with an enormous wing span,” Gerhard said.

Gerhard said his research falls into two different descriptions from witnesses. Some said the birds look like the prehistoric pterodactyl while others, like the creatures described by Zander, resemble the ancient thunderbird from Native American mythology.

You can find thunderbird images atop many totem poles and also carved into the lava rocks of the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque. Similar images are found in petroglyphs all over North America.

According to legend, the thunderbird is said to have a wingspan the length of two canoes with the ability to deafen people with the sound of its flapping wings.

“It is definitely a real animal, according to the native peoples that lived here,” Gerhard said. “It’s not necessarily a legendary animal.”

However a word of caution comes from folks like Ben Radford, managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which applies scientific reason and evidence to extraordinary claims.

“There is a desire to link modern sightings with these Native American stories but the problem is they’re not necessarily the same thing,” Radford said.

Radford said believes the eyewitnesses saw something:

“Ultimately a lot of these sightings, whether it’s these monsters, these creatures, Chupacabras, what have you, these come down to eyewitness testimony,” Radford said. “They’re stories, there’s nothing wrong with stories, but they’re just not good evidence.”

Radford has debunked numerous stories about the Loch Ness monster, crop circles and Bigfoot.

He said he relies on evidence.

“You don’t have bones, teeth,” he continued. “You don’t have any hard evidence, so you look to these stories, you look to these myths.

“We know from many scientific experiments people are notoriously unreliable about estimating things.”

And in this case, Radford said he thinks Zander and the other witnesses in Texas overestimated the birds’ size.

What makes the reports intriguing is that most experts agree scientists have yet to discover every species on the planet and really have no idea what is out there:

“I believe there’s a good chance that a number of large prehistoric animals remain undiscovered by modern science.” Gerhard said.

Radford readily concedes there are species yet to be discovered, but…

“Do I think there are giant animals and birds and creatures out there?” he said. “No.”

For his part, Zander continues to keep his eyes on the skies but hasn’t had a repeat visit from the creatures. The one experience has stayed with him.

“I feel honored to have seen the one sighting,” he said. “I had if they’re still up there still living up there and thriving, I say awesome, more power to them.”

Today’s Web question asked, “Do you think there are prehistoric species still roaming the earth?” Sixty-four percent of respondents said yes; 36 percent said no.Annie McCormick
KRQE News 13

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

34 Responses to “Big Birds of a Feather”

  1. michaelm responds:

    Sixty four percent said yes, there are prehistoric species still roaming the earth…Who knew? Maybe if a few of them logged on here…

  2. Lykaon responds:

    Someone should tell the author of that article that it’s






  3. DWA responds:

    I have a problem with Big Birds similar to one I have with lake monsters: it’s kind of easy to, if not totally mistake, at least exaggerate what you’re seeing.

    In the right conditions, a crow can look big, and an eagle enormous. It’s happened to me. It can be hard in the extreme to judge approximate wingspan of a flying object.

    I’d be interested in knowing if there are commonalities among these sightings that stem from accurate size estimates, among other things. One thing about Big Birds that seems markedly different from lake monsters is how easy they SHOULD be to document.

  4. jayman responds:

    Interesting, but I have to side more with the skeptics on the giant bird reports, giant flying birds anyway. There are plenty of places for a land or water cryptid to hide, but the air is just too exposed. If there were a viable breeding population, there should be many more sightings.

  5. mjmurphy responds:

    Of all the Cryptids, a huge bird in Texas seems among the least likely. Very hard to hide something the size of a small airplane. If real, would very likely have been shot down ages ago.

  6. calash responds:

    The existence of:
    Bigfoot = Probably
    Sea serpents = Maybe
    UFO’s = Who knows
    Giant Birds = Sorry but no

    Giant birds due to their construction would need to fly high to avoid trees and other obstacles. Every foot in altitude would mean that you would be visible to an ever expanding radius of territory. The opportunity for detection is just too great. The only remote chance for existence would be if this was a nocturnal creature in a truly remote unexplored landscape with suitable large prey to support a population.

    I just have to believe that misidentification or misjudgment of distance must be coming into play here.

  7. planettom responds:

    This topic is one of my favorites. I love the idea of giant birds still roaming the skies. The idea of thunderbirds is just too cool. The kid in me hopes that I could catch a glimpse of such a creature. If only…
    On another note, I just returned from a short trip to Albuquerque and I wish I had visited the Petroglyph National Monument, but we ran out of time. I would like to see that sometime.

  8. rbhess responds:

    The mistaken sightings of these giant birds are entirely understandable; I live in an area with a large population of turkey vultures/turkey buzzards, which are themselves large birds, though not as large as the larger condors. Knowing these birds when I see them, I still occasionally find myself doing a double-take at them–it’s not uncommon for the eye to interpret them as larger than they really are, at first. Just the other day, in fact, while driving, I spotted an enormous turkey vulture that passed over the road, seeming to be unusually large… and for an instant I could have sworn that the bird’s shadow was as wide as the road itself. But this was a trick of the eye, of course–upon watching the bird pass by some trees close to the road, it became obvious that it was much smaller than I had first thought, and had MAYBE a six or seven foot wingspan.

    Human beings seem especially ill-equipped for estimating size at a distance (and estimating distance itself). It’s perfectly understandable, then, that there are a lot of honest-but-incorrect sightings out there of “thunderbirds.”

    Nevertheless the whole topic is intriguing. Perhaps a few freakishly- large individuals of known species have been responsible for some of these sightings. It’s often said, however, that none of the legion of amateur birdwatchers has ever reported the sighting of a “thunderbird,” which is a telling indictment.

  9. MultipleEncounters responds:

    Wasn’t there a new retractable-winged hang-glider design in the works back then?

    Seriously, one must have an open mind to all claims. This old earth holds many life forms, some living and some previously living that we know of. Who do the nay-sayers think they are to say something doesn’t exist? They often only fool themselves with their hyper-beliefs that the world is some comfortable fully discovered place.

    As I traveled the logging roads yesterday I contemplated just how much wilderness there is. A 15 mile by 10 mile area covering a single small sub-drainage, equates to 150 square miles for whatever wants to roost, hide, live, in complete isolation to remain undetected. There are hundreds of these sub-drainages just up river from me in this single drainage.

    Around 1982, two friends and I took a trip to the high desert area of Eastern Oregon for some oat-sewing ‘rabbit hunting’. On our way back, traveling west along a dirt road along Fort Rock, and approaching the North/South main road, we see this large black object on a fence post directly in front of us. As we got within 100′, it spread its wings easily to a whopping 10′. It was a Condor, or presumedly a California Condor. It had the white bands on the underside of the front of its wings. I grew up in Southern California and had seen them in Big Sur, I knew the diff between a Condor and a Vulture.

    So what was a Condor doing in Oregon? They were supposed to be extinct here. Our jaws dropped and we speculated that it must have come from Big Sur, California, but that was a good 1,000 miles away.

    To make this incident even more incredible, by the time this took place, there were only 22 California Condors living in the wild of California. I can’t begin to calculate the odds of seeing one of them up here in Oregon a thousand miles away.

    The other possibility, this was one of the last remaining members of a group of Oregon Condors. Lewis & Clark reported seeing Condors in Oregon in 1805, and they were officially extinct in Oregon by the next turn of the century. I’ve attempted to report it to the Condor Project here in Oregon in the past (where they help breed California Condors), but they didn’t have room to consider the possibility that there could have been a wild member of the bird at the time. Whatever the explanation, our sighting was one step away from seeing a cryptid, as these animals were literally extinct in Oregon and nearly as such 1,000 miles away.

    Now that I am thinking about it again, I guess maybe I’ll make another attempt at convincing the experts of our one-time sighting. Of course I don’t expect much open mindedness from the scientists, but you never know, miracles happen.

    There seems to be much historical evidence of bigger birds both by Native Americans and in the fossil record. There is one thing people need to consider when a sighting report of an animal is made in a desert area: ‘Just because it may have been seen there, doesn’t mean it lives there!’ Just like when bigfoot are seen in deserts, no researcher has the authority to rule out the possibility of migration. I believe this is one of the biggest miscalculations of their so called ‘rational’ thinking. With a winged creature, whose to say what the range might be? There are thousands of miles of wilderness across America and Mexico where they may roost, and then they may travel long distances for prey or carrion.

    Being I saw a condor in Oregon when they weren’t supposed to exist, why not a bigger more elusive bird?

  10. fallofrain responds:

    I’m curious why people like their cryptids BIG? Fossil pterosaurs recovered so far show the majority of species ranging in size from about American robins to Andean condors. This is just a guess, but smaller species seemed to survive the great extinctions. I’d think the same would be true of the pterosaurs, assuming any survived at all. But then Hollywood would lose the drama if King Kong was attacked by a robin-size creature.

    In this story, the description most closely sounds like a bird. A fossil of a bird with a 20 foot wingspan was recently found, but I doubt there could be a breeding population of those things surviving unnoticed in North America.

  11. shumway10973 responds:

    Let’s think about it in this way: Either just before or just as white man came to America, these giant bird’s population declined drastically. Then, as we started to move throughout our new land, our explorers reported everything they saw. These reports are what most scientists go by. Now, I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone asks for someone to come out and document such a thing that one of the responses would be, “We have already been thru there. There isn’t anything like you describe living there.” Not thinking that the last time anyone went thru there it was that original exploration and the population has begun to return to normal.
    So, giant birds, it is always possible.

  12. Ceroill responds:

    Interesting. Unlikely but interesting. Like rbhess, I can say from firsthand experience how easy it is to mentally inflate apparent sizes of birds. Even a large crow or raven can look enormous for a moment until there is comparative reference. I’m sure there are technical terms for the psychological and even neurological reasons for this tendency. Same thing happens with the moon at times, when it seem larger than it should be. However, it is still a nifty thought that there might be such creatures. Possible, but I think unlikely.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    I can also personally vouch for what rbhess and Ceroill said. I live in Japan and there are some of the biggest crows over here that you have ever seen. On many occasions I have been surprised by one flying over head and wildly misjudged its size. I also love fishing and often looking at a particularly large pelican or some such, I can completely imagine an uninformed person mistaking it under the right conditions for something extraordinary. Condors and vultures would most certainly have this effect as well. Human perception is not so good for determining size or distance and I think Ceroill is right in that arial phenomena compound this due to the lack of reference points and other factors. The moon is a good example of an optical illusion distorting size as the moon in actuality is the same size throughout its trajectory across the sky, yet at times it seems immense. Rbhess made a very good point in saying that most of those who have reported giant bird sightings have not been birdwatchers. That’s not to say that perhaps birdwatchers have not glimpsed one and chosen to mentally write it off or rationalize it, or even that a birdwatcher has had the opportunity to see one at all, but it is pretty suspicious to me. I too think that there is every possibility that big bird reports are honest, but perhaps incorrect.

  14. Bob K. responds:

    While I enjoy reading comments by many of my fellow cryptonauts, I cant really agree with some of whats being expressed here. I’ve seen plenty of big birds; turkey vultures aplenty, sandhill cranes, herons, eagles(driving along Kalama River Road a couple of weeks ago, a huge golden eagle swooped across the road in front of my car-a big bird for sure, but no teratorn). Call me naive, but by and large, I think the better part of the adult population can tell the difference between a black bear and a sasquatch, a pterodactyl and a turkey vuture, an eagle and-?. I’m not giving cart blanche to every report that comes down the pike, but I lean towards believing the sort of report Loren has posted here. This Dave Zander fellow is apparently a very observant sort, and quite familiar (after 30 years) with the area in which his sighting occurred. If he says he saw something truly out of the ordinary, I’m inclined to believe that he did.

  15. DARHOP responds:

    Now if them BIG BIRDS were yellow, they might be a bit more convincing…

  16. DWA responds:

    Bob K.

    You may have a point; and the point you have is why we go on and on and on about cryptids here. They are not nearly as implausible as the standard suburban-house-party arguments would have one believe.

    My personal problem with Big Birds is that, well, as you say, there are lots of big birds. But as mystery_man and I and a couple others here say, you can misjudge those sizes. I saw a crow recently. My first reaction: EAGLE! EAGLE! BI…UM…HAaawwwk….? Um, er, nope…(I can plead: haven’t seen many crows lately. Might be West Nile.)

    The sasquatch (for example) has many identifying details, repeated by sighters all over the country, that are at odds with, or just aren’t part of, the “public picture” of the animal. Reports sound like people are comparing notes who sure don’t seem to be. Actually, they sound more like people are describing identical details in many different ways depending on their knowledge base. And coming up with anatomical and behavioral insights that already give science a head start on the biology of the species. There are many extended encounters reported, the details of which can only be explained two ways, uncatalogued species or lie, and these people have a surprising tendency to be regarded as dead-on honest.

    Not so Big Birds, as I understand it. They seem to be ID’d by just being, well, big birds. They seem generally to be depicted in raptor-esque terms, and those birds tend to be, well, big.

    And as some of us are cases in point, you can get that, quite honestly mind you, wrong. More detailed encounter reports might sway me, but they seem to run to, wow, Big Bird! And I’ve been there, and it was big, but not a Big Bird.

    And as rbhess notes, that birders are not seeing these does strike me as kind of, well, I’d expect a few such sightings. Analogous encounters have occurred with the sasquatch, but none here? Just seems odd to me. Not ruling out the possibility, but odd.

    (That having been said, the California Condor is a big bird. Maybe it’s slowly extending its range from the initial releases, although to the site of this encounter seems unlikely, if not impossible.)

  17. dogu4 responds:

    So we believe that people tend to exaggerate what they see to match what they perceive as the degree of “unusuality”. But isn’t there also a countervailing tendency to both ignore stuff that seems out of place (gorilla and the basketball team) or to convince one’s self that what they’d just seen was just their mistake. I think that when talking about birds, particularly large soaring birds, we are describing a bird as a flying object that is hundreds or even thousands of feet over our heads and our belief that we’re “pretty good” at estimating the size of these distant objects is actually pretty laughable given our evolutionary neurobiology.

    I’m not particularly attached to the idea of pteranadons or teratornix still flying but simply saying they aren’t there because we don’t see ’em flying strikes me as a little weak.

    No physical evidence or recent fossils (we do have old fossils, yes)? That might be valid reason to look skeptically at the topic, but the process by which the original complex of animals came to be catalogued was not as exhaustive or comprehensive as we are probably comfortable believing…and besides, the European’s guns and ammunition was being used to lethal effect as commercial game and fur hunting was practiced for decades and in some cases centuries before the original compex of animals was described.

  18. U.T. Raptor responds:

    I doubt the existence of giant birds for essentially the same reasons as jayman, calash, and mjmurphy gave…

  19. cmgrace responds:

    I agree that humans are terrible at judging the size and distance of objects, or at least I know I am. However the report says the eyewitness was less than a mile away from the creatures and that he had been living there for 30 years. He obviously knows the terrain and wildlife in the area.

    Also the areas where these sightings are occurring are sparsely populated areas. I have traveled through both West Texas and New Mexico and these are about as sparsely populated as you can get. You can go for miles and see no towns or houses (plus where there are towns the houses can sometimes be very far apart as well.)

    I say all this only to air on the side of crypto-hope, because I would like to believe there are giant birds out there. I do, however, agree with most of the feelings of the others who have commented here. The likelihood of something that big that flies and it has not been discovered already is very unlikely.

    I do think the more important thing not being discussed here is the report itself. It did not ridicule the man at all. And it gave info from both sides of the crypto-stick. I like to think we are gaining in credibility despite some of our more known members. (I talk about the cryptozoology world in general, not just this discussion board.)

  20. sschaper responds:

    Pink heads? The recovering California condor is expanding its range. That might be one possibility, combined with the problem of size estimation others have so capably discussed.

  21. Bob K. responds:

    DWA; good points. But the example you gave actually points up to what I’m saying. I, too, have seen ravens soaring and, for just a minute, believed that I was seeing a hawk or eagle; but continued observation brought me to the correct identification of the bird in question. The Zander sighting, I thought, contained all the ingredients for being a reliable one; it was by someone familiar with the area, and the birds and wildlife of that area; after 30 years, I think thats a given. His familiarity with the terrain, coupled with the length of the sighting, give it some weight. As with Bigfoot; how many sightings go unreported? And dont be surprised if a birder is reluctant to report such a sighting to a group of his or her peers; they run the risk of being laughed right out of their local chapter, or at the very least, stigmatized(“hey guys, you wont believe it when I tell you what I saw-a pterodactyl/tereatorn!!!” “Youre right, Cedric-we DONT believe it; now, we need to talk about that drinking of yours….”) A sort of parallel exists in the society of modern scientists with regards to the Big Fella; how many are willing to endure the distain of and isolation from his peers, and possible loss of promotion or perhaps even tenure that Jeff Meldrum is faced with? Precious few, I think; the same is true for scientists who are “closet creationists” while working in an academic setting; they typically wont come out of said closet until or unless they retire or gain employment in the corperate world. So we can only go by the testimony of those who are willing to come forth with their sightings. Sightings by experienced birders would be preferred, of course; for the time being, we may have to settle for the reports lodged by amateur fossil hunters like Mr. Zander.

  22. Bob K. responds:

    Oh, and a correction on my first post: I had credited Loren with posting this story; I just noticed that Craig did.

  23. rbhess responds:

    Bob k.:

    One might argue, yes, that the odd anomalous “big bird” sighting by a qualified birdwatcher would have been self-suppressed over the years, but time is what tells in these matters. Birders are a close-knit group who gather together frequently (I’ve known several of them and am myself something of a birdwatcher, though I don’t have anywhere near the depth of devotion these people have to their intricate hobby… these people are dedicated) and share all kinds of odd sightings all the time; what most people don’t realize is how often so-called “exotics” show up in places they’re not supposed to be—individuals of a tropical species of bird, for example, getting lost and winding up in Pennsylvania—things like that. This actually happens quite a bit, and birders make careful note of such things. They don’t suppress their sightings; rather, they share them amongst each other, readily.

    Now, over the years, one could expect that enough birdwatchers would have sighted these strange “big birds” that word would get around amongst them, even if a few of them chose to keep it quiet. Really, the reputation of a truly dedicated birder isn’t going to be challenged because he or she saw a strange bird. The supposedly-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker was continuously sought after for years and years and finally the persistence in this paid off (I also have a very loose personal connection to that one) and that’s the sort of thing, really, that birders thrive on; they want nothing more than to sight that out-of-place bird that they can note in their records, share around… it’s almost like a collecting game to them (but more serious than that, of course) which they’re very fervent about. It’s very unlikely that, had birders spotted “thunderbirds” over the years, then, that they could or would keep it hushed up. Even rumors would get around. But to this date we haven’t heard of even so much as a rumor of a sighting.

    This makes it more likely, then that birders, knowing better than the average individual how to properly identify birds (even better, by far, than people who’ve lived in an area all their lives) haven’t reported any “big bird” sightings because they simply haven’t actually seen any, and haven’t been fooled as even honest and well-meaning (and fairly knowledgeable) people can be by birds which might look out of the ordinary to us, but are not so to them.

    I mean, I could say that, like the gentleman in the original story here, I too have lived in the area I live in all my life, and have a good knowledge of its wild inhabitants… but I’ve still been surprised and perplexed at times by things I’ve seen, and I’ve realized over time that no, I in fact don’t know all my local wildlife as well as I thought I did—because it hasn’t been a devotional hobby or interest of mine.

  24. DWA responds:

    Bob K:

    With the sasquatch, there is enough evidence that

    1) very-well-qualified scientists in relevant fields either think the animal exists, or are open to the possibility, and

    2) some of them (Meldrum, Bindernagel, John Mionczynski, to name just three; the TBRC’s last reported expedition had three biologists on it) have gone into the field to pursue more data.

    (In fact, it’s funny that people who should be arguing this point with them are arguing it with me. Just had to toss that in. 😀 )

    We don’t, that I’m aware of, have a similar situation with Big Birds.

    Although I think that, birders being the social circle that they are, one might have eighth thoughts, at a minimum, about sharing his solo teratorn experience with his buddies, at least until he is certain he has his observations right and his head on straight, I’d have to generally agree with rbhess that, if they could keep seeing ivorybills, there’d be an expectation that at least a couple of well-known cases of possible BB’s would be circulating through mainstream ornithology.

    But you might have thought there’d be a followup expedition after P/G too, wouldn’t you?

    (Had to toss that in, too. 😀 )

  25. Bob K. responds:

    rbhess: You wrote:” Really, the reputation of a truly dedicated birder isn’t going to be challenged because he or she saw a strange bird. The supposedly-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker was continuously sought after for years and years and finally the persistence in this paid off “. Yes; an exotic, out of place species or one known to have existed until quite recently is one thing; but a pterodactyl? A teratorn? I just think we’re talking about apples and oranges here. Plus, just how many birders are there? Are there so many of them that they would serve as a ‘blanketing radar’, so to speak, especially for the area in question here, one that is vast and sparsly populated? You’re point is well taken; I simply cant discount ALL the observations that have been made down through the years simply because a birder has not seen one; or, if a birder has, that we somehow know he/she has been forthcoming about it. You also pointed out that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker was “continually sought after for years and years”-who is continously seeking after pterodactyls and teratorns? If these two critters do exist, they may only consist of tiny populations which will become extinct in the next several decades; if there is no concerted effort to look for them, then perhaps the only sightings we will hear about are the incidental ones made by the Dave Zanders of the world.

  26. Daryl Colyer responds:

    I must admit that I am extremely skeptical of the existence of these “birds.” Come to think of it, I am very skeptical about the existence of any of the so-called classic “cryptids,” with the exception of the sasquatch.

  27. Bob K. responds:

    DWA: Ya’ know, it might be just that simple; it really took decades after P/G to bring us to the point which you are having more and more academically qualified folks getting into the field as never before. Some 35 years ago, who could we really point to; Grover Krantz and [?]; not much else. When we’ve reached the point whereby a Jane Goodall makes the kind of comments that she did recently, I think you’ve really seen strides made in the acceptance of the ground laying research done by the modern scientific pioneers in the study of Sasquatch; this was pretty darned thankless toil to be occupied with in decades gone by, and I believe that we are seeing the fruit of those many years of hard work finally beginning to pay off in a greater general awareness and yes, even acceptence of the possibility of the existence of the Big Guy by groups and individuals who may have kept their suspicions to themselves just a decade or two earlier (though there is still quite a ways to go in this regard). So then: where are the ‘ornithologist’ Krantzs’, Bindernagels’, Meldrums’, et al, so to speak? I’m personally unaware of any, and even if there are, THAT aspect of scientific cryptostudy is probably on par with the state of serious Bigfoot research in the mid 60s. In short; if there had been the same effort put into discovering big avian cryptocritters as you have had-and have currently-in Bigfoot research, we might just have tracked down one of these beasts by now (if, of course, they’re really out there).

  28. springheeledjack responds:

    When Radford talked about this just being “stories” and “myths”. Well for one thing, while a story can be a relation of an account, a story is usually associated with fiction in general language use. As for myth, it is similar to a story, either relating to explanation for natural happenings or what not.

    Accounts of sightings do not fall into these categories (unless you want to quibble about historical, legends and what not). That is what we have here. There is a difference and my point in bringing this up. Eye witness accounts of sightings of cryptids are not myth and not fictitious stories (counting out the hoaxers and what not), but accounts logged in by witnesses.

    It’s important because Radford is trying to relegate the eye witness accounts to no more than story telling or myths recounted of long past.

    Now, as for the big birds, I have my troubles with this one as well (though I would love nothing better like a few above), mostly because of the lack of ability to gauge how big something is against the sky–no points of reference. I have seen my share of large sized birds in the sky, and while bigger than the robins, cardinals and crows I usually see (however, some of the crows around here are getting rather large–sheesh), they are not pterosaur or Thunderbird big.

    I do, however agree with Bob K’s point about observation: the longer you look at something, the better chance you have of sizing things up to see if you are really seeing something odd and outside your realm of knowledge or just a big turkey vulture soaring along at a good altitude.

    And that is where the scoftics ignore that simple train of thought. If you see something odd, unless you are in a hurry, distracted, etc, chances are you are going to look a little longer to see if you can pin the odd thing into a normal category. It is those “odd” cases where things do not fit, where the crypto-eyes shift around to take a better look and see if there is something really going on there.

    The scoftics seem to think that the bulk of us are looking to fit everything into our cryptid casts, and while you are going to have some that go down that road, I do not think that applies to most who come to this site to discuss this stuff.

  29. DWA responds:

    springheeledjack says:

    The scoftics seem to think that the bulk of us are looking to fit everything into our cryptid casts, and while you are going to have some that go down that road, I do not think that applies to most who come to this site to discuss this stuff.

    I think that’s been said here, but rarely that concisely or that well.

    I – like the vast majority of people – will always make every effort to pigieonhole everything I see into the category “things I know exist.” Right now, no cryptid falls into that category. If I see a sasquatch, and tell you I am certain of it, then what I describe to you will damn well be, incontrovertibly, a bipedal ape. And not a guy in a suit, which, remember, DOES fit in the above category.

    A couple of years ago, I saw a big bird that I was unable to identify. Eaglehawkvulture type bird, and not far above me, but no signs of any species I knew. It is only reading springeeledjack’s post that I remember that sighting, and of course that I NEVER considered seriously the possibility that it was not a known bird species. (If I had to guess, turkey vulture. Its wings were partially folded in some aerodynamic maneuver or another for the brief period it was in sight, rendering the TV’s distinctive silhouette invisible.) I still don’t know what it was. But I know what it probably was.

    In fact, what makes me consider the sasquatch evidence so compelling, and not the evidence for Big Birds, is precisely this: if BBs were out there, many people would -as calash points out – have to be seeing them. That so many, most of whom were disbelievers or firm doubters before they saw one, defy the apparent public scorn for the sasquatch to render detailed encounter reports – leaving no doubt at all what they saw if they are telling the truth – tells me they are seeing something science needs to explain.

    That one doesn’t see the same for BBs says, to me, no.

    Not saying, Bob K and Multiple, that we can’t get there period. Humans have fouled up more than sufficiently to leave doubts open; smug I ain’t. But personally I wouldn’t put a big pile of chips on that number right now.

  30. Bob K. responds:

    DWA, everybody; great posts. Wouldnt you know, an article revisiting the Lawndale incident has been posted for our consideration today. More fuel for the fire, eh? What attempted to carry Marlon Lowe away, and what were people in that area at that time seeing that was so out of the ordinary? Also: there was something else that I had wanted to introduce to this thread which is covered in the new article as well; namely, that these sightings have been recorded frequently enough that possible migration routes have been proposed for these giants.

  31. Mnynames responds:

    Everybody keeps saying that Big Bird sightings don’t share common characteristics, but from what I’ve read, they usually do. That being that they are large, black birds with “horse-like” heads (possible indicating a bald nature) with either red eyes or red patches near the eyes, and sometimes a white band around the neck. Also, most of the sightings I have read about concern animals on the ground, not in the air, and at a fairly close range. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve read some of these accounts, but they are numerous, even moreso if you propose, as I do, that many Jersey Devil sightings and other strange flying beasties (Mothman, for example) may fall into this category too. Reports of tails can perhaps be accounted for by the bird’s long tail feathers.

    I agree, it’s odd that no birdwatcher has ever come forward with a Thunderbird sighting (Although a careful search through the records might be able to find one), but how many birders are there that regularly visit this animals purported range, and do so during their perceived migrations? Probably not enough to serve as a “blanket radar” as someone else has said. While I’d still put less money down on Big Birds as a certainty than say, Sasquatch, there just seems to be far too many reports for there not to be some legitimacy to it. And how can you write off a bird big enough to lift a kid off the ground as a run-of-the-mill eagle?

  32. Mnynames responds:

    One other thing that strikes me- How many Primatologists have reported Bigfoot sightings?

  33. dogu4 responds:

    A question I have about the supposedly ubiquitous coverage provided by birdwatchers is that most birdwatchers, the rest of us, pretty much stay close to inhabited areas. I have met avid birders while hiking and travelling in extremely remote mountainous areas. People who hike in the wilderness tend to become avid naturalists as natural features play so prominent part in the day’s experiences, and are what typically motivate serious wilderness hiking enthusiasts…that, and, not to be understated, to be in an environment where there are very few other people. My point is that where the big birds might reside are not areas blanketed with birdwatchers, and perhaps worth noting is that the trails to which hikers stay when travelling deep in the mountainous areas, are fairly restricted in the most rugged areas; again contrasting with the idea that lots of experienced naturalists are “all over” the wilderness. There’s not that many opportunities to check out little refugias perched up on a cliff several hundred feet away…and wilderness hikers are usually trying to get to the next fire and shelter site…off-trail bushwhacking in really rugged mountain areas is kinda intimidating for many obvious reasons.

    It has been suggested, and seems plausible to me, that if these giant birds exist in small populations, they alone exploit a commensurately gigantic natural system; the stormfronts that are formed as the prevailing winds, jet streams, hadley cells and resident superheated air of the american plains and gulf waters which combine to create world class systems of hurtling turbulent hurling air masses…perfect for them. We can also imagine the bird, with low population, slow reproduction rate, and un-excelled long-distance eyesight, thanks to natural selection, capable of perceiving things at a distance which gives it a distinct advantage over even the most observant ornithologist…and, though I know a number of avid birders, working on their “life list”s, both in the front country and the back country, I don’t know a single one who finds that training their field scopes onto the rising thermals that accompany tornadoes and cyclones. Lighting, hail, frog-stranglin’ rain, wind and noise…of course, what kind of birds would be out there anyhow?

    Well…good question.

  34. DWA responds:

    dogu4: great post. A keeper. Without speculation, nobody goes looking.

    And with that. Any stormchasers wanna weigh in here? There may be many more of them than way back of beyond birders. And don’t most of them shoot video?

    mnynames: Not saying there aren’t commonalities out there. I couldn’t in fact say it authoritatively; I focus much more attention on the sas than on BBs.

    It just seems a tougher order for these guys to go unobserved than for the sas, generally speaking. One would also think that with BBs there would be many multiple-witness sightings; those tend to get reported, I’d think, more than single-witness encounters do.

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