Watch the Skies! Here Comes Birdzilla!

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 18th, 2007

pterodacyloid media

Get ready. They are coming. Not by land or sea, but by the airwaves. The invasion has begun. They are here!

Have you noticed that when the thoughtful pieces on cryptozoology turn up, the segments are populated by “friends of the family,” commenting on the subjects under discussion? Have you also noticed the manufactured tension in these appearances? Often the media naturally sets up the “good cop, bad cop” scenario for their stories, and you should expect to see it again this week (if not on the History Channel, certainly in the stories done in the wake of “Birdzilla”).


How about “good investigator dude” Ken Gerhard (above) versus “bad skeptic guy” Ben Radford (below) or has the “white hat” vs “black hat” set-up in for a big mix-up this time? (I’m friends with both of these gentlemen, so I take it they understand I’m sketching out this “leather hat” vs. “no hat” melodramatic division purely to make a point.)


This coming Wednesday, with “Monster Quest” tackling stories of prehistoric-looking giant birds and “pterodactyls,” (yes, I know the media is using the wrong term, but hey, they’re using it) expect to hear random comments about flying cryptids. The History Channel series is already being noted by the media in San Antonio, who admit their attention to these creatures last summer was a ratings bonzana. Therefore, they ran an update at this week’s end.

Ken Gerhard Big Bird

Sidebar in support of libraries, bookstores, and books: Documentaries and television are wonderful, but a word about the print media. I highly recommend you take the time to read Ken Gerhard’s Big Bird! – Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters, Mark A. Hall’s Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, and Jerome Clark’s and my Creatures of the Other Edge. Reading is the only way you’ll get the full unfolding and background on the modern cryptozoological history of cryptid large birds, big bats, pterosaurs, pterodactyloids, and pteranodons. Visuals are nice, but don’t forget the books.

Hall Thunderbirds

Meanwhile, back to cable, here is the latest from Texas television media outlet, KENS 5 Eyewitness News:

More sightings of a huge flying creature, originally reported by KENS, have prompted an investigation to determine if it is a monster or myth.

“Even though it was dark, the thing itself was black. The blackest I’d ever seen,” said Frank Ramirez.

Years ago, Ramirez thought he was after a prowler in the back of his mother’s Southwest Side home. But what greeted him on the garage rooftop still gives him goosebumps now.

“That’s when the thing up there turned to me, and it was in a perched state, and it started to turn,” he said. “It started to move its arms and this giant blackness was just coming out. At that point, I dropped the stick and I ran.”

Ramirez sketched a drawing of the large, bird-like creature. The image is disturbing, and similar to dozens of sightings across San Antonio and South Texas.

“If you were to take a man’s face and pull his chin down, just like a stretched face,” said Ramirez.

“I was just terrified and as I was running. I just thought it was going to carry me off or something.”

An earlier KENS story about a large, prehistoric-like bird drew more than 100,000 hits on More than a few people in San Antonio came forward to say they’d seen the creature, too.

One woman contacted KENS by e-mail, saying that because of our story, she now knows she’s not crazy.

KENS caught up with cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Gerhard recently wrote a book, called “Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters” on the large, dark birds.

“When investigating mystery animals, it’s important to point out that there are vast areas of land, even here in South Texas, that remain uninhabited,” said Gerhard. “If an animal like big bird does exist, it certainly needs some habitat, somewhere to hide.”

The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge has 88,000 acres, and the marshes and prairies are home to 413 species of birds, but no flying pterodactyls.

“Raptors of all kinds, from hawks to falcons, come throughout. Our most common is the Harris Hawk, ” said Park Ranger Stacy Sanchez.

But even Sanchez admits that blogs spiked with reports this summer of something.

“People were posting about a very large, raptor-like bird, and they were talking about an 18-to-20-foot wingspan. I don’t know … It’s kind of a myth,” said Sanchez.

Critics say where’s the proof? Eyewitness testimony without a feather or other body of evidence leaves these stories as they are – just stories.

“We know that it’s rare, and we know that this area’s been pretty popular hangout in the past,” said Gerhard.

Gerhard has been installing cameras in Harlingen, where Guadalupe Cantu wants his big bird sighting documented and validated.

Back in San Antonio, Ramirez has mounted an outdoor light to keep the creature at bay.

“I know what I saw. It took me more than a week to step out of this house. I wouldn’t step foot out of this house,” said Ramirez. “It had this very, very horrible demeanor-look on its face. Like I was lunch,” he said.

On Nov. 21, Gerhard will be featured in a History Channel documentary called “Birdzilla.” ~ Joe Conger, “I-Team: Expert trying to identify mysterious bird flying around S. Texas,” KENS 5 Eyewitness News, San Antonio, Texas, November 16, 2007.

To watch the KENS-5 video (while the link is still live), click here for it to upload.

If you would like to read the earlier story, from July 30, 2007, this is it:

Sightings of mysterious giant bird in San Antonio

Is it a bird? A plane? An ancient flying reptile, having survived the millenia, hidden in desert canyons and caves until now? No one knows…

Loch Ness has its monster. Does San Antonio have one, too?

Strange sightings of a huge flying creature have been reported as recently as six months ago. Is it a monster or myth?

Guadalupe Cantu III was busy working his newspaper route, but he says the big news of that day 10 years ago flew right over his car. He says he’s seen what most have not — an unidentified flying object, one that still scares him.

“We were afraid that it would come at us. So we stayed in the car till it passed this way,” witness Guadalupe Cantu III said. “This thing’s all feathers, all black. Much bigger than me. It looked at us. It had very stooped-up shoulders.” The beast has been spotted from the Rio Grande Valley to the mountains of New Mexico.

“(It) looked like what was possibly two people standing on top of a mountain up there,” said David Zander, who saw the monster in New Mexico. “Something that big … I guess it kinda makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to.”

San Antonio’s Ken Gerhard has written a book on these dark birds as big as planes, with wingspans from 15 to 20 feet.

Native Americans called them thunderbirds: depicted in their art, their flapping wings were said to cause explosive noises.

“What’s interesting is that the reports of these giant, raptor-like birds do continue into modern times,” said Gerhard, a cryptozoologist. Cryptozoology is the study of and search for legendary animals to prove their existence.

He says there’s solid evidence something is overhead.

“I believe there’s a good chance that a lot of large, prehistoric animals, if you will, remain undiscovered by modern science,” he said.

So what could the giant birds be? Some witness sketches eerily resemble prehistoric creatures, like the pteronadon of 160 million years ago.

However, Gerhard theorizes it could be a creature that’s a little less extinct — if that’s possible — a pteratorn.

“These are the surviving ancestors of modern condors and vultures. They lived up until 6,000 years ago, we know for sure, in parts of North America,” Gerhard said. “In fact, over 100 specimens have been recovered from the La Brea tar pits in California.”

But critics have another take: human error.

“Was it really as big as he thought it was?” asks Ben Radford, editor of “Skeptical Inquirer” magazine. “When there’s enough information to come to a determination, I’ve always found an explanation for it.”

Radford says the eye can be deceived.

“Eyewitness testimony is very unreliable. And so it’s hard for a person to tell — even experts to tell — ‘Is that thing I’m seeing out there, is it small and nearby? Or is it huge and farther away?’ ” Radford said.

But in one sighting in San Antonio, three people gave similar accounts, witnessing the same fly-by of a huge, winged creature. A trio of South Side teachers traveling a deserted road had their cars “buzzed” by the monsters, and it made the papers in February 1976.

In fact, for decades papers throughout South Texas have chronicled the flying creatures. In the age of the Internet, the reports continue, like this one from a recent sighting near Huebner and Babcock roads.

“The creature was large, at least 6 feet,” the report reads. “I don’t know if I ever want to see another one.”

“If I were outside there walking, it would’ve gone after me,” witness Cantu said.

Cantu believes most sightings go unreported because people are afraid of the ridicule they could face.

However, he says a face-to-face encounter with the creature would be much worse.

“I think if you do see it, then you might wind up missing,” Cantu said. ~ by Joe Conger, KENS 5 Eyewitness News, July 30, 2007.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
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.

15 Responses to “Watch the Skies! Here Comes Birdzilla!”

  1. Cryptid Hunt responds:

    Finally a flying cryptid episode! Im going on a Thunderbird expedition to Pennsylvania in 2009.

    So I need to watch some of the techniques there doing to find a flying cryptid.

  2. bill green responds:

    hey everyone, birdzilla sounds like a very interesting new segment on monsterquest. thanks bill green

  3. jerrywayne responds:

    I couldn’t agree with our kind host more. Folks need to READ, READ, READ. Too many people get their information from TV or radio entertainment outlets. And I also recommend people read in a balanced fashion. For instance, a couple of years ago when I read a skeptical treatment of Bigfoot, BIGFOOT EXPOSED, I also made sure I read Loren’s book on the same subject presenting the advocates point of view.

  4. jkeiche responds:

    Well, duh guys! Everyone is always talking about ethnocryptids etc. The local and South Texas version here, nothing less than our old friend la lechuza. It is a common thing in local lore really, a bird with a human-like face, a witch in animal form. I have been around here for years and could not help wondering at the lack of references to this old favorite, ie. barn owl.

  5. jkeiche responds: Nothing new to me about this bird brained story. I have seen these big birds before, and am surprised that no one mentions lechuzas in relation to ethnocryptids. This is not a new phenomena.

  6. cryptidsrus responds:

    Ken Gerhard is one righteous dude. Can’t wait for this episode. I have his book—BIG BIRD!

    LOOOVE Birdzilla. And Thunderbirds.

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    I also vote that if the existence of Thunderbirds is PROVEN, that they replace the bald eagle as the national symbol.

  8. jkeiche responds:

    I am utterly amazed that there is no mention anywhere here of the lechuza, a long-time ethnoknown cryptid from south Texas. Someone at KENS 5 and Ken Gerhard need to do a little more research unless it is their intent to pass off an old bird in new feathers.

  9. serpent_seeker responds:

    I really can’t wait to see this segment on monster quest this Wednesday, these birds do exist, I’ve read many books on these big birds. They may be some type of combination of bird such as vulture, condor, thunderbird almost something like a super bird, but if they ever turn out to be a prehistoric survivor from man’s dim past if could be the find of the century. It has to be proven first.

  10. Saint Vitus responds:

    Laguna Atascosa (and many other places in the Rio Grande Valley) is a beautiful place and a great place to see birds. I doubt there are really thunderbirds there, there are no mountains or canyons in the region for a population of enormous flying cryptids to hide in. I had not heard of La Lechuza, the closest thing I know to that story from the Rio Grande region is La Llorona, who sometimes has the head of a horse. Anyway, I would highly recommend a trip to Laguna Atascosa even if you are not looking for thunderbirds.

  11. DARHOP responds:

    As my Dad (Rest Peaceful Pop) use to say. And I mean he would drill this into all of us. He’d say, if you want to learn about something, no matter what it is. Read books on the subject. He’d say the best learning tools around are books. My dad was a very smart man. He read a lot.

    I don’t think anything, no matter what is proven to exist. Will ever replace the Bald Eagle as our national symbol. That bird represents too much! Many people have died fighting for that bird more or less. I don’t see it being replaced by anything anytime soon. Though if it were replaced, what better a replacement than the ThunderBird.

  12. DARHOP responds:

    Oh, and it’s a good thing that the Turkey wasn’t elected our National Symbol, as it was under consideration. Could you imagine eating Bald Eagle for Thanksgiving. Ewwwww. Not!

  13. gavinfundyk responds:

    Regarding Mr Radford’s statement that:

    “Was it really as big as he thought it was?” asks Ben Radford, editor of “Skeptical Inquirer” magazine. “When there’s enough information to come to a determination, I’ve always found an explanation for it.”

    I have often wondered if magazines like the “Skeptical Inquirer” ever find their skepticism to be in error? If they always find an explanation for every event, are they really weighing both sides equally, or do they know their answer going in?

  14. Ken Gerhard responds:

    In response to JKeiche, I do of course discuss Lechuza in my book and also feel that there may be a connection between that legend and Big Bird. However, as you probably already know, the Lechuza is described as many different things depending on who you ask. The concensus opinion in south Texas is that Lechuza is a spirit/white witch who takes the form of a bird-woman and can transform into a great owl. One point I did want to make is that there have been reports surfacing from across the border. I believe the remote Sierra Madre Mountains or vast marshes of northeast Mexico may be the primary habitat for these animals if they exist.

  15. brittney m responds:

    PA? I live in PA. I also want to go on an expedition. I’m already saving up.

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