Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 13th, 2005
In cryptozoology, we often here the refrain: "Why do birdwatchers never report Thunderbird sightings?"
Well, of course, they do. But most of the pressure is to run to the sightings of rare birds seen in your neighborhood, to add to one’s list of birds seen in the observer’s life – the life list. Three such events are occurring right now in the USA.
Saturday, November 12, 2005, while I was there, flocks of birdwatchers gathered at Perkin’s Cove, Ogunquit, Maine, which was being visited by a cave swallow (Petrochelidon fulva). I saw it skimming the water, only a few yards away. Cave swallows, like all other swallows, are diurnal (during the day) birds, but this species is rarely seen north of Mexico. Recently, there have been reports in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The unusual sightings have become a new addition to many birders’ life lists.
On the same day, at La Grande, Union County, Oregon, birdwatchers reported a rare spotting of a white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica). In the United States, white-winged doves live in the Southwest and are most common in Arizona. They migrate to Mexico and Central America in the winter. But in Oregon? Another birdwatchers’ event is unfolding.
Black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia), in August 2005, were confirmed in Ohio for the first time since 1950s. These rare crow-sized birds, the black-billed magpies were first reported in North America by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago. These magpies’ breeding range extends from Alaska south to eastern California and Arizona and east to Manitoba, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The only other magpie seen in this country is the yellow-billed, whose range is limited to central California. Therefore, the recent sightings in Ohio have become a birdwatchers’ news alert, spread via the internet and birders’ networks.
No Thunderbird alerts, of course, cross the desks of most birders. That’s, well, outside the mainstream for birdwatchers, we are lead to understand. But something else is going on.
As it turns out, few in the general public hear about the Thunderbird sightings that do take place, as birdwatchers are discouraged to file a "bird report" of their "unusual" sightings. They are rushing to add to their life lists of known birds. That is the way of birdwatchers. This is a major reason many of us, including Mark A. Hall in his Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, gather so many of the ignored "large bird" sightings. And it is another reason for why these accounts are so rarely discussed, nevertheless see: Coast to Coast AM, Tuesday, November 15th.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.