Giant Owls, Mystery Millionaires & the CIA

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 16th, 2007

Giant Owl

Once is happenstance.
Twice is coincidence.
Three times is enemy action.

– from Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, who achieved the rank of Commander in British Naval Intelligence.

Rumors are sweeping throughout Kashmir of a mystery millionaire who will pay a high bounty on the capture of giant owls. Now we hear that some are saying this is just a cover story for the CIA. That this news is related to the hunt for bin Laden.

Does this sound like something from the covert intelligence days of millionaire Tom Slick in that part of the world? Why are two other "giant owl" stories being reported from two other parts of the world at the same time? Is there twilight language being broadcast in these news items? What’s going on here?

I have written on how cryptid searching has been used to hide spying (see here, for example). It seems all of that kind of factual crypto-spying is behind a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion at "CIA Disinformation Tracks Bin Laden With Overweight Owl Rumors" to explain what is going on in Kashmir right now.

But don’t laugh. Those that joke may be trying to conceal a deeper truth. Is all this about hiding in plain sight? Some details on the Kashmir owl story can be found in the Indo-Asian News Service for January 14, 2007:

A bizarre rumour in Jammu and Kashmir that an owl weighing over three kilograms can turn its owner into a millionaire has spread like wild fire in the rest of northern India. The Srinagar office of IANS is receiving scores of telephone calls daily from northern India, with callers desperate to know the contact numbers of the mysterious man who has offered a fortune for such owls. And at least one Hindi newspaper that carried the original story says its phone lines are literally jammed.

People are even capturing some owls weighing nearly 7 pounds, hoping to get some money off their efforts from the mystery millionaire.

"Sir, I have an owl weighing 3.1 kilo. The bird is in good health and unharmed. Please tell me where is it to be delivered so that I can collect my reward," pleaded Naresh Kumar, who said he was calling from New Delhi.

Reporters are having trouble tracking the rumors down.

Those making the queries about the dream merchant who floated the rumour about the million-rupee owl are not just the ordinary citizens. Many journalists too are eager to interview either the elusive owl buyer or simply some of the locals who have been braving the winter chill in Kashmir to chase an owl in the state’s northern parts.

eagle owl

The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of horned owl found throughout Europe and Asia.

As to the photo at the top of the blog, it is a very real bird. During the last month, headlines have blared the news, "Giant Owl Terrorizing Community In England."

Concurrently with the rumors coming out of Kashmir, I have found that over in the United Kingdom a "giant" owl has reportedly been attacking people. But are the reports somewhat more colorful that real? Nevertheless, these news items are getting people’s attention. For example, on January 11th, the UK media noted: "A giant eagle owl is reported to be terrorizing residents in Middlesborough, England. With its 5-ft wingspan, the bird can easily pick up foxes, small dogs and deer."

Meanwhile, during all this, skeptic Joe Nickell was floating about his newest "giant owl" explanation theory to debunk yet another unknown entity. This means that Nickell has now used owls to explain: (1) Mothman sightings; (2) the Flatwoods Monster sightings; and, most recently, (3) the Kelly creatures sightings. Even his fellow skeptics must see how worn out that tired old bird is getting! Or maybe Joe Nickell is a spy?

Are all of these stories nothing more than coded messages being sent out by MI6, MI5, ONI, or the CIA on the wings of giant owls? Less we forget, the character picked out by Ian Fleming named Bond, James Bond, was inspired by an American ornithologist, the author of Birds of the West Indies.

James Bond1

‘Tis strange ~ but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!

– Lord Byron.

Late in the day, I noticed that the annual CIA World Factbook, which also serves as a tool for the military, intelligence services, and international travelers, has an “owl” coincidence to it. Intriguingly, CIA World Factbook online proudly reports it utilizes XQuery and OWL technology. Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz informs me that “OWL stands for Web Ontology Language. Not quite an acronym, but close enough I guess. It’s basically a programming (mark-up) language to publish information on the Web in such a way that’s it’s easier for computers to process.” The other mark-up language is HTML, which is much more familiar to me and most people, and supposedly makes it easier for “humans” to process data. BTW, the CIA World Factbook remains one of the largest and longest-running public domain publications produced by any intelligence agency in the world.

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.

14 Responses to “Giant Owls, Mystery Millionaires & the CIA”

  1. fredfacker responds:

    Very interesting stuff.

  2. alanborky responds:


    Was Joe Nickell raised in a tree house in somewhere like Chernobyl? That’d be a possible explanation for why he thinks owls look like Mothman, Big Foot and Uncle Tom Cobley and all, i.e., anything and everything EXCEPT owls.

    Then again, maybe exposure to something like radiation is why his brain’s clearly evolved to its present superior level 5 X-men condition, reducing all the rest of us to mental pygmies by comparison.

    As for myself, all I can say is ALL Joe Nickell’s explanations for anything tend to make me ‘owl.

  3. richard_from_idaho responds:

    You want to see a giant owl that fits in with all this creepy spy stuff? Google “Bohemian Grove Owl” in an image search. That owl is 20 feet tall! The usual politicians cavorting at its feet.

  4. Enigmatic responds:

    It’s the millionaire who gave the Patterson, NJ, “mighty hunter” $17,000,000 for the baby “yarwen.”

  5. joppa responds:

    Sounds like one of those BBC news reports to the French underground before D-day.

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    I added a late night update on the CIA World Factbook.

  7. Lee Pierce responds:

    Joe Nickell is a hoot.

  8. apollounplugged responds:

    There is truth behind every lie.

    Owl could definitely be an acronym for “Original War Leader”, or on a layman’s level. “Osama was located”

    The imaginations don’t lie, they just make stuff up.

    5 foot wingspan could easily be interpreted as an aerial drone.

    Picking up small dogs, foxes and deer, are squad company tags in the location being requested to move in the associated territory.

    Although I have large owls in my area, I highly doubt they would ever attack me unless I bothered their nest, which are 30+ feet in trees.

  9. WVBotanist responds:

    Is it a coincidence that Porter Goss hails from islands just off the Gulf coast of Florida, where large owls often nest in towering pines along the gold courses?

  10. apollounplugged responds:

    One World Leader?

  11. peterbernard responds:

    Have you ever seen the giant owl they worship at Bohemian Grove?

  12. peterbernard responds:

    Oh sorry, Richard from Ohio had the same thought. Boho Grove has been a fave hangout of the Bush family for generations. They have a mock human sacrifice there each summer then engage in revelries denied to the working class. It’s been tied to Baal worship by conspiracy theorists. The Bush family is a CIA family.

  13. Monteen responds:

    Female Eurasian Eagle owls can grow to 30 inches tall, weigh up to 9 pounds and have a HUGE wingspan and can certainly put the fear of God into you, should you encounter one that isn’t happy. The average female Great Horned owl (the Eagle owl’s American cousin) “only” weighs about 4 pounds, to give you some perspective. If this bird was an imprint, (raised by humans) s/he would quite normally gravitate towards them since he thinks he are one. Hell hath no fury like a hungry imprint.


  14. Rillo777 responds:

    I’m just sorry for all the owls this story has caused to be caught or killed. It just goes to show what greed in humans can do and why some cryptids would be better off remaining cryptids.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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