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From the Files of the River Journal's Surrealist Research Bureau

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Big birds


Last month’s “Miracle on the Hudson,” the mid-air collision of a passenger plane with a flock of geese, rightfully took the page one spot on the news, but other news of a similar nature took place during the same month, chief among them the sightings in Alaska of a large bird “bigger than a piper cub.” Such reports go way back.

In January of 1976 along the Texas Rio Grande Valley a number of remarkable sightings took place. Two witnesses observed a “horrible looking” black bird standing in a field. It was over five feet tall and had large red eyes attached to a “gorilla-like” face with a beak at least six inches long. The next day more witnesses searched the area and found 3-toed tracks eight inches across pressed an inch and a half into the hard ground. A week later in nearby Brownsville, a witness heard something loud thumping on the roof of his house trailer and went outside and trained his car’s spotlight on the object. It had been lying on the roof when the spotlight hit it but rose quickly, 4 feet tall with black feathers, a long beak, and red eyes. Similar reports flooded the area’s police departments for the next month.

I’ll only briefly mention the “Mothman” of West Virginia since it’s been the subject of its own book and movie (The Mothman Prophecies). Out of the scores of credible Mothman witnesses, I’ll quote only one, a woman who had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting it on the highway. “It was much larger than a man. A big gray figure that stood in the middle of the road, then a pair of wings unfolded from its back and they practically filled the whole road. It looked almost like a small airplane as it took off straight up, disappearing in seconds.”

Later still in Texas, in 1976, three schoolteachers driving to work saw a shadow cast over the whole road; it was an enormous bird with a 15- to 20-foot wingspan. According to one witness, “it just glided, it didn’t fly, it was no higher than the telephone line. Its wings were huge, but they were very peculiar, a bony structure like if you were to hold a bat by the wing tips.” A dozen other witnesses in the area observed a similar flying creature.

One of the most famous sightings occurred in 1977 in Lawnsdale, Illinois. Three young boys were playing in their back yard when two large birds swooped down out of the sky. The boys screamed and two of them managed to jump into a nearby swimming pool to escape but the third boy, 10-year-old Marlon Lowe, was grabbed by his shirt and lifted two feet off the ground. As he screamed his parents and neighbors ran outside of the house and witnessed the strange sight of their boy held in the talons of a giant bird. Marlon was beating at it with his fists until the creature finally dropped him after carrying him for 40 feet. Then, according to Mrs. Lowe, “the birds just cleared the top of the house, went below some telephone lines, flapped their wings once more, very gracefully, and disappeared into the north.” Another score of similar reports from the area followed; in one a mail carrier stated he watched two massive birds in the sky. One swooped down towards a nearby farm and grabbed what appeared to be a 40 or 50 pound baby pig, then passed in front of his car and rejoined its companion, disappearing into the distance with the struggling pig.

Interestingly, bones and fossils of “teratonis” a rather common, if large bird of the last Ice Age (average wing span of 12 feet) have been found in conjunction with human habitations, suggesting they were regularly hunted by native Americans. An Argentine type of teratonis (merrimai) had a wingspread of 24 feet!

Since the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident there’s been heated discussions on the cryptomundo website  as to whether the November 1962 crash of a United Airlines passenger plane outside of Washington, D.C. was, in fact, caused by a single large bird or not. From the final C.A.B. Report; “Both halves of the 35 foot all metal stabilizer were found one-half mile behind the crash site. On both halves were found the blood, feathers, and flesh of a large, unidentified bird.”

For further information on these large identified birds please check out either the the website or the books Cryptozoology A to Z by Loren Coleman or Unexplained by Jerome Clark (both available at Sandpoint Library).

Support Olympic Hero Michael Phelps by joining in the Kelloggs Boycott! Call their 1-800-962-1413 hotline and register your disapproval now! Millions for Bongs—Not One Cent for Tribute! You can also sign an online petition here.


From Manifesto #3: The language of the birds will not be forgotten in our lifetimes. Surrealism will burst the fetters of the mind, if need be with real hammers!

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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