(pictograph at Black Dragon Canyon, Utah)
Huge birds, large enough to carry off children and attack adults. Riding the winds of storms, lightning flashing. It seems that every Native American tribe has stories featuring these legendary creatures.
Worldwide, there are also legends. In Arabia, it is the Roc. In Malaysia, the Garuda. In Paupua New Guinea, they are called Ropen. In China, they call them Peng.
In the U.S., it is Thunderbird or Piasa.
The archaeological record is quite clear that gargantuan flying creatures once thrived around the world.
Even more recently, true giant birds, the Teratorns, looked down upon mastodon and giant sloth in North America. Teratorn fossils abound in the northwest corner of Arizona.
More recent still, in Ice Age deposits in upstate New York, remains of Condors have been found.
In the Sonora region of Mexico and the southwest U.S. live the Yaqui people. They, too, tell tales of encounters with Thunderbirds. The Papago, Pima, and Cochiti people also have their tales of giant birds. So also the Navajo, Ute, Hopi.
So many of mankind’s legends describe these creatures as having recently shared the earth with us, one has to wonder if it might be possible… and do some remnant populations still exist?
-On July 25, 1977, ten-year-old Marlon Lowe, of Lawndale, Illinois, was playing in his backyard when two large birds appeared. One bird descended upon the boy and tried to carry him off, and had him airborne for a time. His mother, seeing this from the kitchen window, gave chase, screaming. The bird could barely “lift off” with the boy, and dropped him after a hundred-yard chase.
Both Marlon and his mother describe a dark bird with a naked head and a wingspan of fifteen to twenty feet.
-In 2002, in Dillingham and Manokotak Alaska, large flying creatures with 14-foot wingspans were observed by pilots and townsfolk. These were described as reptilian, with membrane wings and crested heads.
-In May, 2008, Washington County, Pennsylvania, numerous reports of Pterodactyl-like creatures with wingspans of up to 18 feet were reported.
Now we see High Strangeness creep in.
It’s enough to see a large bird, unknown or undocumented. Possibly even an Ice-Age remnant population.
It’s another thing to see flying reptiles the likes of which flew about millions of years ago.
It’s all together another thing to see, as in the recent Pennsylvania sightings, reports of “Man-Birds” in association with Thunderbird activity.
Are these archetypal images of our racial memory, as Carl Jung might view it?
Are these as-yet undocumented creatures, as cryptozoologists might see them?
Or are they something that Fort would ponder upon, report, and comment, awaiting the next “impossible” event?
For myself, I'm suspending disbelief.
Twice in my life, I've been alone in the wilderness, on a high place, and had the Sun blotted out by an impossibly large, fast shadow. Bird shaped.
It gives one cause to wonder, after ducking for cover.