More Thunderbird

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 2nd, 2009

The s8intcom blog, based on what they saw here, have posted the following enhancements:

Photo credit: Anomalist/Cryptomundo investigation, August 2009.

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.

38 Responses to “More Thunderbird”

  1. TheUnknown responds:

    Mhmm…Eagle or Thunderbid?

  2. fett42 responds:

    The picture of it from the parking lot makes it look like a kite to me.

  3. RiverRun responds:

    Pretty obvious lamp post to me. As fun as it is to pickout objects and wish… Cool looking clouds though.

  4. UCTZoology responds:

    hahahaha its analyses like these that make a mockery of the whole field of cryptozoology and why I find myself having to defend my interest in it to my peers.

    Its a lamp. I can understand the mythology behind thunderbirds – and the way that even the red hue from the setting sun creates a birdlike shape on billowing thunderclouds, which could spur on some sort of legend if it happened enough, “red sky at night shepards delight” kind of story. But to zoom in on a lamp and point out eyes and dangling legs is ridiculous.

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    Dear UCTZoology and others,

    Of course, I agree with you. Merely being complete in communicating where others took this yesterday.

    Please do not kill the messenger.

    Thank you,

  6. norman-uk responds:

    Sorry but it looks nothing like a street lamp, even without the enhancements! Among other things for example, it could be a hoax, a piece of plastic or paper blown up, a bird, a bat a hang-glider or a thunder bird and of course the enhancement looks much like an eagle.

    Ive looked at the street pictures and see nothing that would correspond with the photograph. It doesnt show two boxes on a rod and the pole bends a way at the top. I wonder in the photo what the red beacon like object in front of the camera is and how does the photographer get a higher vantage point?

    The ”ghostbuster skys” seem quite common latterly. Has this site got any special native american history that has maybe been bulldozed?

    The important thing about Ockams razor is that the simplest explanation is the best where it fits the facts, and in my relatively humble opinion a street light doesnt! I think this is a genuine cryptozoological mystery!!

  7. CBull responds:

    @Normak-UK: That’s what i thought first “It looks _nothing_ like a street lamp”. But don’t look at the “enhancements”. Look at the original picture and compare the “bird” with the other street lamps. The upper part of the lamp pole gets blanked out by the two lights.

  8. Jason Vac responds:


    The red “beacon” is one of those “anti car driving into store and wrecking your day”
    barriers that you’ll tend to find out side of targets, wall-marts etc…

    Also, can you please explain the post underneath the “genuine cryptozoological mystery” that appears to be standing there serving no purpose? Could it be the work of a rogue tether ball player?


  9. norman-uk responds:

    Yes CBull a kite would be a good contender if it were a bit earlier in the evening as there do appear to be launching sites thereabout. My probable contender not knowing the chance of an eagle in the locality would be a piece of plastic blown up by a bit of a wind flurry and which would more easily explain the partial asymmetry. I do hope it is a thunderbird however and I dont rule it out, much more interesting.

  10. lukedog responds:

    Yikes! Enhancement has only made matters worse, now the lampost actually looks like a bird. A good lesson for me, and probably most

  11. mystery_man responds:

    I also tend to think it’s a lamp post, but it’s interesting that if indeed it is as most of us here suspect, it seems to be the only lamp in the photo that is not lit up. It also seems to be of a different design than the other lamps in what I suspect is the same parking lot. Although I don’t think this is a thunderbird, I do wonder if it could be perhaps something other mundane thing besides a single broken lamp post of a different style than all the others nearby.

  12. norman-uk responds:


    I am sure if you explain your postion rationally and objectively your peers should gain new respect for you. But you do have to first look at the evidence and be prepared to modify your preconceptions in the light of your reviewed rationalisations even if at first glance you thought it was a street lamp. If your peers do not appreciate this I think you will find they are probably a vocal minority who are not living up to their scientific principles. Whatever, you will run into a lot of people who feel challenged and insecure when faced with difference and its part of the fun isnt it? It must be difficult for those involved in science who have to keep looking over their shoulder expecting and maybe fearing criticism if they journey off the beaten path. I think youve got to keep heart!

    You do have the opportunity to put your rational and scientific view on this site, which is perhaps as good as it gets!

    Personally, I think you can enjoy cryptozoology without being a scientist, as I enjoy and participate in bird watching without being an ornithologist, ditto music and gardening etc etc

    As to the myth of thunderbirds I prefer the one where the a myth is an explanation for a real fact or phenomenom.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    You know what, tinkering around with zooming and what-not, I think I was wrong in my previous post.

    If you zoom in (you might want to download the photo and do it with your computer’s zoom tool for added magnification), the “Thunderbird” is not exactly aligned with the clouds, and under the wing where it appears to be sky, you can make out what looks like globe bulbs similar to the other lamp that are almost the same brightness as the sky.

    They also indeed do appear as if they may be the same style. On the other lamp in the parking lot, the light bulbs seem to be on top rather than the bottom, but now I think this is an optical illusion. The dark silhouette of the house masks the dark portion we see on the “Thunderbird” and the sky masks the part we can make out on the other lamp post.

    I’m now under the impression that it is lit up, but with the brightness of the sky, it is hard to discern without careful zooming and examination. But bright globes are visible, even though they closely match the brightness of the sky.

    So yeah, lamp post. The lighting and backgrounds seem to be just skewing perceptions and creating contrasts that trick the eye.

  14. dylan responds:

    Dear Mr. Coleman & friends,

    My first question upon seeing the original photo was, what bird with such large wings would possibly be passing through a suburban shopping area in the evening.

    My immediate solution was a Great Blue Heron, which in these days of degraded or nonexistant habitat are seen quite frequently passing through heavily trafficked areas as they move from one debased body of water to another, desperately seeking something to eat. A Great Blue has broad wings with a six foot wing span.

    My only doubt was the absence in the picture of the pendant wading legs which hang down and behind when they fly.

    In the enhancement they are visible. I think that is what your thunderbird is. dylan

  15. pentagramma responds:

    It´s clearly a lamp post.

    I didn´t notice it before, but compare it to the other lamp post on the left corner of the picture. The glow of the two bulbs is producing the curvature under the supposed wings.

  16. Paul78 responds:

    I thought it was a lamp post straight away and what makes it clear is the other lamp post has that shaped lamp, its above the pick up in foreground to the left .

  17. Artist responds:

    “…ultimately, the truth is what you want it to be.” – vingogly

  18. Rob008 responds:

    It looks like Rodan, to me. Maybe it left Tokyo and is now attacking Philly. It could happen, Godzilla attacked New York a couple of years ago.

  19. raisinsofwrath responds:

    Yes, lets compare it to the lamp on the left which happens to be much lower as are all the lamps on posts in the lot.

    It’s hard to label it a street lamp IMO. Obviously it’s not a thunderbird but I think people are just trying to rationalize something that isn’t as obvious as they assume.

    Where is the post? Either it’s CGI or the post magically disappears 3/4 of the way up. Furthermore, to say it’s blending into the sky doesn’t work as you can see part of a post below it that is perfectly visible in the sky. Also, again if you compare it to the “other lamps” it has little that matches.

    I don’t know for sure if I can assume it’s a street light without more evidence.

  20. planettom responds:

    It is a lamp post pretending to be a thunderbird. 🙂 Seriously though, I love taking photos of thunderstorms and wonderful cloud formations. However, this photo only shows a lamp post. Great shot of a beautiful sky and storm.

  21. Spinach Village responds:

    I believe that there are still large flying creatures scattered through out the world.

    I’m starting to get annoyed with the person who took this picture. Its starting to look to me that he/ she purposely set it up like this.

    Its a picture of a lamp post with sun in background, notice how the angle almost seems purposely that way.

    What would this picture look like If the photographer moved to the right and used the clouds as the backdrop? If that were the case then there would be more contrast and we might not be talking about this right now.

    I think somebody took a clever photograph.

  22. kenneyvg responds:

    It’s a lamp. If you look really close you can see it…darn!

  23. chabuhi responds:

    Personally, I think the very clearly visible pole in the original photo is indicative that this is a lamp in the parking lot.

    Also, maybe my “depth perception” (a misnomer when examining a two-dimensional photograph) is different than others, but even if the top of the lamp were a bird, its horizontal position seems to put it over that pole, which is obviously much closer than the horizon, and would make that “bird” (if it were a bird) much more ordinary in size. Say, perhaps, a crow or similar.

    I think if readers will examine the original photo at its full size (not the size it appears on this page) then they will easily see the lamp-post and resolve the “bird” as the top of the lamp.

    Honestly, I don’t mean to offend people, but it disturbs me to think that — with even the slightest scrutiny — people see anything other than a lamp. To see otherwise, in my opinion, is either desperate or delusional.

    I say this as someone who believes that the existence of such creatures is possible.

  24. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Geez folks. It’s a lamp. It looks taller than they other lamps because it was closer to the photographer. It’s called perspective. The bottom of the lamp can’t be seen because the brightness of the lamp lights overexposed that area, causing it all to appear white. You can emulate this effect by taking the picture into photoshop and adjusting the virtual exposure to see the rest of the light pole (which is clearly visible directly beneath the overexposed area where we would expect it to be) fade out as the exposure is increased.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a lamp post is just a lamp post, no matter how much we might want to see a kite, an inexplicable dark spot in the clouds, or a Thunderbird.

  25. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    rainsofwrath said:

    Where is the post? Either it’s CGI or the post magically disappears 3/4 of the way up. Furthermore, to say it’s blending into the sky doesn’t work as you can see part of a post below it that is perfectly visible in the sky. Also, again if you compare it to the “other lamps” it has little that matches.

    The fact that you can see the post up to 3/4 of the way up, exactly where you would expect it to be if it were supporting the “bird”, that it is obscured just below the lamps, but that above them you can see the hood of the lamp, is pretty compelling proof that all we are seeing here is overexposure from the lamp washing out that area, causing it to appear white like the non-cloudy background.

  26. Jason Vac responds:


    Well said, thank you.

    People need to realize that this lamp post is really only a couple parking spaces away. The other ones in the photo are further down the parking lot which of course will play tricks on the eyes in regards to size.

    Also remember, that although cameras on cell phones have been becoming much more impressive over the years, they are still just cell phone cameras! Why is it hard to believe for some that the top of the pole cant be whited due to the cameras inability to handle all the extra light?


    If you notice the color of the lights from all of the lamps in the parking lot, and compared them to the several other various lights you see in the photo, its easy to tell that parking lot lights look much different. In fact, the parking lot lights just so happen to match the color of the whitest part of the sky pretty well… if not exactly.

    So now that we all take note of how those lamps translate over to an iphone camera, it does not take a stretch of imagination to figure out how much brighter the lamp in question would appear due to its closer proximity in concert with the already bright sky….

    Either way, this is one of those fortunate situations where anyone could go back to that same exact spot and determine conclusively what it is.

  27. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    RE: the various cries of “Where is the post?”

    You can read an explanation of exposure here.

    From the section on highlights:

    Areas of a photo where information is lost due to extreme brightness are described as having “blown-out highlights” or “flared highlights”.

    In digital images this information loss is often irreversible, though small problems can be made less noticeable using photo manipulation software. Recording to RAW format can ameliorate this problem to some degree, as can using a digital camera with a better sensor.

    Film can often have areas of extreme overexposure but still record detail in those areas. This information is usually somewhat recoverable when printing or transferring to digital.

    A loss of highlights in a photograph is usually undesirable, but in some cases can be considered to “enhance” appeal. Examples include black-and-white photography and portraits with an out-of-focus background.

  28. Bigfoot73 responds:

    How could the guy failed to have noticed a 20-foot wingspan raptor ? Why did no-one else notice? Because it’s a lamp shade.

    If those are wings then they are very unusual in being of equal depth front-to-back for their entire length, with perfectly straight squared off tips. Has nobody noticed the absence of a tail? I can’t make out anything resembling eyes or head either.

    It’s a pity that cloud line isn’t just slightly lower, this photo wouldn’t still be exercising us.

  29. DNS responds:

    Holy cow! Has no one else noticed the rectangular shape at the top of the “enhanced” “bird” image? The same shape as the light fixtures at the tops of the poles in the Google images? And on the other poles in the original image? It’s easy to determine which pole in the Wal Mart parking lot is directly beneath the “bird,” so anyone trying to claim this is something other than a light fixture needs to account for the whereabouts of the rest of the pole that just happens to be beneath the “bird.” I thought everyone knew what happens when all or part of a photograph is overexposed, but obviously I was wrong.

    I am beginning to think there will be people who desperately cling to an anomalous explanation even after someone goes to that Wal Mart and replicates the photo on a clear day, with the light fixtures in plain sight. As they are on Google’s Street View.

  30. Imaginary Friend responds:

    It’s a very dramatic picture of a lampost in a parking lot.

    I agree that at that distance, even if it is a bird, it’s not Thunderbird-worthy. There are plenty of suburban birds that are big, as people have mentioned: blue herons, vultures, large hawks, young eagles. I even saw some honkin’ big Canada Geese strolling through my store parking lot the other day. (pardon the pun)

  31. norman-uk responds:

    First thing I saw for the first time this eve when I switched my computer on was two glowing orbs , yes the mystery shape now does look like a couple of lights to me also. There are some problems still, like the lamp post curving away at the top and other items etc. etc. I suspect there have been some changes in the area since 2007 so the street view is a bit different maybe including the street lights and this has caused me problems.
    There is another flying creature above the Master Care premises to the left of the car park entrance. Perhaps a little baby thunderbird? Please leave me a little mystery!

  32. cryptidsrus responds:

    I still “like” the picture—
    In the sense that it reminds even the most passionate CrytoPerson about the extent of how the eye can be “tricked.”


    Like Loren said—he was being “thorough”-no need for sarcasm.

  33. mfs responds:

    I’ve seen raptors such as Red-Tailed Hawks, Cooper Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and the occasional Turkey Buzzard soaring about the skies above Pittsburgh. Seagulls can be seen along the Allegheny-Mon and Ohio Rivers. About the only out-of-place bird I saw a few years back was a Brown Pelican and that was in a Wal-Mart parking lot. As far as this “alleged” Thunderbird photo goes I concur with those that it’s a lamppost. Westmoreland County bordering Allegheny County has been a “hotspot” for “Thunderbird” sightings for years. I’ve yet to see one though.

  34. Ursawolf responds:

    If it is just the top of the lamp post, why is it slightly off-center from the pole? When I look at the enlarged photo and hold a straight-edge along the pole, the bird shape is a bit to the left of the pole. Can that be explained as a camera distortion or optical illusion? Just asking the experts here……..

  35. UCTZoology responds:

    Loren I was not intending to shoot the messenger nor trying to be sarcastic (cryptidsrus), and certainly appreciate your ‘thoroughness.’ I was actually referring to the blogger who undertook the analysis.

  36. alanborky responds:

    Can’t someone go to the Walmart concerned – or indeed any Walmart – and take a picture of any lamps there with topmost fixtures of that shape, at that height?

  37. Know it all responds:

    Looking at the overall photo one immediately sees over the leftmost SUV a dark pole rising up and bisecting two illuminated globes (delineation of the pole weaker just as it approaches the two burned-in globes glare superimposed in front of the leftmost apartment complex) with a double crescent darker canopy metallic housing indicated just over the burned in globe lenses.

    Then to the right of the photo one sees the identical scenario (albeit closer) with brilliant sky sunset fooling the camera and burning completely in the top of the pole.

    Now extraordinary evidence would be required to prove otherwise.

    Blow-up shows coloration suggestive of bald eagle. Strike one – Eyewitness reports don’t generally describe a pure white head, yellow feet and dark bown body for “Thunderbirds”.

    Blow-up is too squashed top to bottom (for a natural bird pose) while the parking lot photo objects are undistorted. Strike two.

    Looking at the Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers sign illuminated below to the left one can tell by the sharpness/detail and perspective destance of the “Thunderbird” that it would have to be somewhat forward of the Wendy’s sign in distance to the camera (or at farthest approximately over the sign).

    Here is a similar Wendy’s sign:

    All one need do IF the parking lot lamp pole was not visible going up to the “Thunderbird” is count the standard 8″ long brick courses in the Wendy’s photo per window panel and count the glazed panels going up to the Wendy’s sign. One comes up to @ 8′ or so for the red letters length – equivalent to the superimposed width of the dark double crescent object in the photo if it was directly over. As the sharpness of the object is greater than that of the sign inspite of the burn in glare, one would safely assume that the object in nearer the camera and therefore smaller than @ 8′ in width.

  38. jordan_ responds:

    I’d say a turkey vulture. I think they are on the extinction list but you never know about those refugee colonies.

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