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A Giant Winged Cryptid Over Barcelona?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 24th, 2010

Spain: A Giant Winged Cryptid Over Barcelona? (1990)
By Javier Resines

The twentieth anniversary of an unusual and highly original case within Spanish cryptozoology took place a few months ago. In June 1990, a giant bird decided to frighten—with its imposing presence and unpleasant crowing—a sizeable number of Barcelona’s residents.

What was extraordinary, aside from the apparition in itself, was the way it became known through a series of letters to the editor of a renowned Spanish newspaper. We must bear in mind that this phenomenon goes beyond the purely cryptozoological to go into the field of anthropology or social psychology.

On the morning of June 10, 1990, readers of Barcelona’s “La Vanguardia” had the chance to read a brief missive sent to the paper’s editor by Pere Carbó, a resident of the city. The anonymous citizen said: “I cannot help but to make known my surprise at this unusual event: on the evening 28 May, some residents of the Les Corts district were awakened by the unbearable crowing of a bird. It wasn’t just any bird. Our astonishment was immense when we stepped out to the balcony to see the black silhouette of a bird of tremendous size. It perhaps measured between 3 and 5 meters, and I am not exaggerating. Numerous residents saw it and numerous comments were made the next day. We assume that others must have seen it other neighborhoods. What was it? And what’s stranger still, why hasn’t it been mentioned in the press?”

This letter became the starter’s pistol that unleashed a veritable flood of letters from readers who claimed having seen the animal in various locations and under various circumstances.

Thus, during the following weeks, the creature was seen (day and night) in various parts of the Catalonian capital and in locations such as Gavá, Sant Joan Despí, Salou, Bellvei del Penedés and the region of Empordá. According to eyewitness accounts, the bird ranged as far away as 100 kilometers distant from Barcelona.

According to witnesses, the animal was dark (mainly black or grey) with a wingspan of between 3 and 15 meters, making loud crowing sounds in three different tones, and whose membranous wings were reminiscent of a prehistoric pterodactyl. In other cases, however, it was classified as a “mutant pigeon” or a black crow, naturally. As we can see, the descriptions were so wide-ranging as to preclude an identikit drawing of the bird.

A few days after the apparition, the Police acknowledged in a story published in El Periodico de Cataluña that it had received hundreds of calls reporting the presence of the gigantic being, while the citizen hotline crashed as a result of the event.

The most unusual hypotheses on the nature of the uncanny bird were put forward. Thus, Xavier Tutusaus (a reader who signed his letter as “botanist”) suggested that it was a specimen of Avis Cervus, a mythical species described in real in the 16th century (half deer, half bird) which – according to his theory – was passing through the city during its “customary” journey to Madagascar.

Moreover, Santiago Mayosa, officer in charge of the ornithology service of the Barcelona School of Biology, was unable to put forth a scientific explanation to the existence of an animal with these characteristics, theorizing that it could be an albatross, a species from the southern hemisphere whose wingspan can reach three meters, but completely unknown in the Catalonian littoral. The Department of the Environment of the Generalitat, on the other hand, offered a laconic solution: the bird in question was nothing more than a mere vulture.

In spite of this, the bird paraded through the Catalonian skies for three months, although several cases collected by local researcher Jordi Ardanuy lead us to believe that the bird (or birds, as the case may be) was not passing through the city, but rather had or has a local habitat. Let us see some of the cases compiled by Ardanuy: in the summer of 1991 or 1992, eyewitness J.A. Pérez was driving his car in the company of his wife near the El Prat airport when he saw a bird six times larger than his car. The animal, which looked prehistoric, made no noise whatsoever.

In early 1996, in Girona, a family was able to see a bird measuring some 5 or 6 meters. It was dark, silent, motionless wings and thick legs.

On April 14 of that year, Lluis Villamaría and a group of friends envisioned an immense black bird in broad daylight near Montseny. The bird flew by beating its wings barely three meters over the ground.

As we can see, we are faced by a curious phenomenon within domestic case histories. The apparently numerous witnesses made the fact known through editorial pages in a newspaper. This in turn caused the reaction of other readers who decided to share their experience, offer an explanation, give an opinion or, as was the case with some letters, add a humorous tone to the entire matter.

As a result of this initiative (let us call it a grass roots initiative), other dailies such as El Periodico de Cataluña, Avui and the Europa Press agency (as well as mystery magazines) decided to give a certain credibility to the story that became the talk of the streets of Barcelona for a long time, and collect reports to which they had access.

But what were the citizens of Barcelona facing back then? Several hypotheses have been put forth to explain the giant bird. The one that gathers the most supporters considers a voluntary or involuntary hoax that may have started with a malicious letter, followed by others who “thought” they had seen something or heard something. Errors of perception and a desire for celebrity, or to feel part of an extraordinary event, could lead a mystifying event to become real for many citizens.

The fact is that this animal (or whatever) became rara avis (pun intended) within cryptozoology at the international level.

(Translation (c) S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Angel Rodriguez, GEIFO)

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


10 Responses to “A Giant Winged Cryptid Over Barcelona?”

  1. red_pill_junkie responds:

    An article titled Criaturas Misteriosas en España (Mysterious Creatures in Spain), published in the Spanish magazine Año Cero (# 209, December 2007) mentioned those same reports.

    It also mentions a case reported in April 2001. That night, a man named Jesús Serrano observed a strange light while he was walking his dog; the light had a boomerang shape and it moved erratically through the air. Later, the same witness (aling with his girlfriend) observed them same light from his home balcony; through binoculars, he realized that the “light” was a giant bird with glowing red wings!

    The magazine also reported several cases of strange attacks and mutilations discovered on sheep cattle in 2000 and 2003. Maybe the giant bird had a taste for mutton ;)

  2. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    Hmmm, 1990? Just a thought but what was seen by some of the witnesses could have been a stealth bomber headed to the Middle East. They would have used allied airspace for the trip. The plane looks like an immense black bird and I am sure the engine noise would have sounded strange.

  3. Artist responds:

    Ah, the paranormal rears its mystical head… again.

    “…he saw a bird six times larger than his car.”
    My brother, walking towards a lakeside fishing spot next to the Temple of Music in Providence’s lovely Roger Williams Park, was astounded to see two gigantic crow-like birds, with bodies “as big as my car”, flying low over the grassy lawn!

    “The bird flew by beating its wings barely three meters over the ground.”

    The birds flapped their huge wings slowly as they swooped by him, creating a swoosh with each beat – then they turned and silently flew beween the trees along the water’s edge and out over the big lake.

    He ran to the lakeshore to see more of them, but in those few seconds, they had disappeared!

    “…a bird of tremendous size – dark (mainly black or grey) – a crow – It was dark, silent – seen (day and night) – made no noise whatsoever – an immense black bird in broad daylight…”

    That Park is legendary for its mysterious inhabitants – giant birds and eels, white-robed strollers, hovering lights, vanishings etc…

  4. ilikeitdark responds:

    I am an ex-pat from the USA who has been living in Barcelona since 2003.
    In late 2004 early 2005 I was living the Gracia bario in Barcelona. One of my roomates was from Praga and one night, maybe around 11pm or so, she came home with a strange story, and was a little shaken. She was at her freinds house in the Vallcarca barrio (which is near Tibidabo mountain in Barcelona), sitting on the terrace at night. All of the sudden, they saw the shadow of what they decribed as a giant bird/bird like creature spreading its wings, and then taking flight, on the buliding opposit them. They decribed it as being from what I recall 5 or 6 meters at least. I don’t remember if they heard a sound or not. She was totally mystified at what she saw, and was not a beleiver in Fortean subjects at all. Being a fortean myself, I asked around a bit, and a Catalan friend told me about the stories of giants birds a few years earlier.

  5. E responds:

    So many sightings of such a big bird for such a long period of time and no one got a camera ready???

  6. cloudyboy87 responds:

    Very intriguing reports. I am noticing some similarities to the reports of Ropens in Papua New Guinea and to Pterosaurs in North America. I will definitely have to research this more :)

  7. Tacos_with_Chili responds:

    Looks like USA and Spain so far. I’m guessing thunderbirds and other birds at that have been living among us in tremendous size. Looks like they’re either related or in the past they may have been many large birds that we didn’t know existed. As I recall online, I seen a picture of a large bird in a museum. As always they added it’s feature over the fossil or something like that. It looks like a giant crow. The feather however was found. Giant black feather.

    This reminds me of that bird. Could be the same species. If it’s the same exact (meaning pure breed), that species didn’t go extinct. At least not when these people saw it. As for the Thunderbird, I’m surprised that these bird still exist. I’m shocked right now to know that It’s not only in America.
    I’m happy to know that other large birds of extraordinary size exist elsewhere. I wonder if there’s other sightings other then North American and Spain. Just like giant apes worldwide, or Nessie like creatures worldwide.

    So far these birds resembles crows, Mutant Pigeons, and Giant vulture like creatures. I think some resemble giant falcon like or eagle like. I don’t know if the Mothman counts as a supposed giant Owl. Just waiting until someone spots a Giant hummingbird or something resembling a hummingbird. I take it that these Giants are somehow related to the smaller version of what people say they look like. I mean come on, in the past many birds breed with other birds of the same kind (like dogs do), and somehow the birds gotten smaller and smaller. Like the Irish wolfhound to a toy poodle.

    Both canines and by many generations the dogs ended up with new breeds and new breeds and then comes the smaller breeds. Looks like dogs like making love to different varieties of the same kind then any other animal would that I know of. I guess birds are the same way as dogs then. I know cats are. And the larger birds seem to survive these days.

  8. Tacos_with_Chili responds:

    @ Red_Pill_Junkie, Artist, and Ilikeitdark.
    Artist, Red_Pill_Junkie and Ilikeitdark, it seems like this birds might be endangered (just my own theory). Sightings many times before in Spain. I would assume it’s endangered since more than one sighting may mean that these birds for some reason arrived to the public places and probably enjoys something there. I would assume more of these birds would stop by. Apparently it didn’t harm people. I’m assume it doesn’t have a taste for humans. (Hopefully they don’t).

    What I don’t understand (although, I have an open mind and I know many things are possible in this earth) is that these birds of tremendous size hid away from the public well. How? I don’t know and I yet to understand. Yes many animals can hide in larger size, but a bird? A bird that flies and walks on land? That’s something that would be seen more often then just a large land animal (mokele-mbembe, bigfoot, dinos..) a 5ft bird to a 10foot bird in height is really getting me to think with a more open mind. I mean where on earth (I truly mean that) are they going to hide? Many trees but smaller birds can hide so well, but birds of larger size and tremendous size can’t hide in trees.

    Condors I believe are more visible in trees then a smaller bird. (if they ever nest up there) A 5ft to 10ft bird in height or even 20ft bird in height can’t hide in trees Well maybe a 5+ft but not a 10ft one. I think falcons, eagles, hawks, vultures, condors (I’m not an expert) all live on rocks at some point. I can clearly understand a bit if a thunderbird or an gigantic bird can sustain and live in mountains, nesting in mountains. I don’t understand where in mountains.

    I would assume any flying object (driven by people) would be seeing this birds around them mountains. Satellite should be able to pick it up maybe. Although I’m not an expert, I can clearly think with my own knowledge that posses right now and I might be able to figure something out. I know many of you are thinking the same thing as I am.

    I can’t clearly see these birds nesting in trees. Honestly I don’t know what mountains, where on the mountains, are these birds located without them/their nest being seen. How high the mt are? I don’t know, I can understand if they live high in the mountains where humans hasn’t possible been. Maybe just maybe modern generation probably hasn’t explored every inch of a mountain.

    My only logical explanation is the mountains. If it lives on land/trees, I don’t know how come they haven’t been caught with more views then it has now recorded or video taped..etc if it flies, and walks on the ground like other fowls do. These creature should be more exposed then any other animal. If these birds flies to a city, town, village without getting caught when their on their way to a destination, then I don’t understand how can that be?

  9. red_pill_junkie responds:

    @ Tacos_with_Chili (those are NOT tacos, man, and I know tacos!) Personally these sightings seem to have more of a Fortean undertone than the typical cryptozoological sighting.

    The fact that these large avian creatures were seen by so many people in such a populated urban area, and then the sightings just stopped, might just mean they were not caused by some unknown or out-of-place flesh-and-blood bird. But that’s just me…

  10. lordoftheonionrings responds:

    One thing many people use as an urgument over the existance of mega-fauna is that they are so big they would be seen all the time. If they in fact did exist they would be at the absolute top of the food pyramid meaning thier would be very few of them as compared to animals lower on down. Also they would have huge territories and would probably be severely endangered due to habitat loss. Also I could see a bird being able to avoid detection almost better than alot of other cryptids. It would be very difficult to determine the size of a flying crptid unless you were very close to it. A gaint bird viewed 1000′ away might just look like a regular turkey vulture 500′ away if you catch my meaning.



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