Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 31st, 2009
How about starting the week off with a mystery photograph?
Patrick Huyghe of The Anomalist recently received an intriguing picture. But Huyghe was traveling, and so he passed it along to me, for further investigation.
I did and find it worth posting here for reader feedback and opinions.
First, let me give a little background.
The individual who took the following iPhone image is a prominent company president. While I have his name on file, he shall remain nameless as he feels no need to have his very public life invaded with unwanted attention and inquiries.
His initial message, with the photo, detailed that he had seen this “over an apartment complex just outside Pittsburgh PA during a really weird storm.”
He continued: “I promise you this is an authentic untouched photo. If you look at the center slightly right and just below the cloud anomaly you can spot the thunderbird. It was a really weird cloud. Super dark but all clear to the right of the cloud and to the left. But the cloud was really dark and in a straight line as far as I could see in front of me and behind me. Never seen a cloud like it before or since. Never seen a bird that large either.”
As to the exact location for where this photograph was snapped, it is in the community of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. The photo was taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot on Route 88, which can be seen with a Rite-Aid in the foreground, in front of the housing complex.
Narrowing down the date when he took this, the photographer said this image was taken in July 2007, because he remembers it was one month after he got his iPhone in June 2007.
Why did he wait so long?
Apparently not following cryptozoology too much, the man said: “I couldn’t find anyone to send it to, but I didn’t spend that much time trying. Most sites I found had email that you couldn’t attach pictures to.”
Reading a story on The Anomalist, the casual photographer saw there was a contact email that would allow attachments. He decided to share the image, not making any extraordinary claims for it.
“I’m simply putting the photo out there. It was really far away but obviously large. I was photographing the storm and then thought I’d seen something. When I checked the photo, I noticed I captured something. Not sure I believe in thunderbirds but I know what they are supposed to be and it’s a cool picture,” said the businessman.
Here is the photograph:
What is it? What would photographic analyses of the bird-like artifact show? What do you see in the image?
What does this photo and event tell us about Thunderbirds seen in thunderstorms? About the folklore associated with the storms? About what people feel? About what they think they see in them?
For more on encounters with large mystery birds, especially in America, including a thorough discussion of the frequent reports of Pennsylvania Thunderbirds, see:
Mark A. Hall’s 2004 book, Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, pictured above, has been joined by a hardbound edition in 2009.
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.