Friday 3 July 2009

Thunder bird sightings, sea eagle or teratornis?

Thunderbirds are in the news again. see full article here :

In a previous column, we took a look at the thunderbirds, the legendary large winged creatures that are believed to fly above the skies of the Western states. Various American Indian tribes knew about these awesome creatures and told myths and legends about their mysterious powers. But it seems that the thunderbirds could also inhabit the eastern part of North America as well. One of them apparently provided a nasty scare for an unsuspecting man. According to a Web site, this man, who wanted to stay anonymous, was driving on a rural two-lane highway just outside of the town of Clendenin, W.Va. one morning in early October 2007. It was about 8 a.m. Suddenly, the man had to hit his brakes when he was confronted by the sight of a giant flying creature in the middle of the road. The huge bird was only a few yards ahead of him and it was feeding on some road kill. The witness, who is an avid hunter, was startled by the size of the creature. He estimated it stood at least 4 feet tall and it's head extended above the roofline of his vehicle.He described the large bird as being covered with very dark brown or black feathers. It had a large head and its long neck appeared to be slightly crooked. The beak was very long and the eyes were quite dark. But the most impressive thing about this animal was its massive wingspan. It was easily as wide as the two-lane road upon which it stood, according to the online report. "It had a very muscular upper torso and the wings were as if they were its arms," said the man. The startled man said the creature's wing tips stirred up the dust and gravel on both sides of the road as it started to fly away. The witness added he was in a state of shock as he watched it fly off. He later returned to the site and measured the distance across the road from edge to edge. It was about 21 feet.
The man also did some research to find out exactly what he had just seen. The closest creature he could find was in a book. It was a drawing of a teratornis, an extinct bird from the prehistoric era. It was larger than the Andean Condor and was the largest species of flying bird ever encountered by man. It became extinct around the end of the last Ice Age, according to a Web site.
But perhaps the teratornis is not extinct after all. Some researchers in cryptozoology believe that the massive bird could have survived after all and formed the basis of the thunderbird legend among Native Americans. It could be still by flying over our heads and make an appearance when we least expect it, they say.

There were reported sightings in 2002 .

Wednesday, October 16, 2002 Southwest Alaskans say bird is the size of a small plane


ANCHORAGE -- Reports of a giant winged creature seen in Southwest Alaska in recent weeks have biologists and residents puzzled. Villagers in Togiak and Manokotak say the huge bird has a wingspan of about 14-feet -- the size of a small plane -- and is much bigger than anything they have seen before. Scientists aren't sure what to make of the reports. No one doubts that people in the region west of Dillingham have seen a very large raptor like bird. But biologists and other people familiar with big Alaska birds say they're sceptical it's that big. A recent sighting of the mystery bird occurred last Thursday morning when Moses Coupchiak, a 43-year-old heavy equipment operator from Togiak, 40 miles west of Manokotak, saw the bird flying toward him from about two miles away as he worked his tractor. "At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes," Coupchiak said. "Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that's when I noticed it wasn't a plane." The bird was "something huge," he said. "The wing looks a little wider than the Otter's, maybe as long as the Otter plane." The bird flew behind a hill and disappeared. Coupchiak got on the radio and warned people in Togiak to tell their children to stay away. Pilot John Bouker said he was highly skeptical of reports of "this great big eagle" that is two or three times the size of a bald eagle. "I didn't put any thought into it." But early this week while flying into Manokotak, Bouker, owner of Bristol Bay Air Service, looked out his left window and 1,000 feet away, saw a very big bird. "The people in the plane all saw him," Bouker said. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out," Bouker said. Raptor specialist Phil Schemf in Juneau is sceptical of the size. "I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," Schemf said. Schemf, other biologists, a village police officer and teachers at the Manokotak School said the sightings could be of a Steller's sea eagle, a species native to northeast Asia and one of the world's largest eagles. It's about 50 percent bigger than a bald eagle.The Steller's eagle has occasionally shown up in the Pribilof Islands, on the Aleutian chain and on Kodiak. A bird known to be a Steller's sea eagle has been spotted three times since May and in August of last year, 40 miles up the Nushagak River from Dillingham, according to Rob MacDonald of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Another Steller's eagle took up residence on the Taku River south of Juneau for 10 summers starting in the late 1980s, Schemf said. The fish-eating Steller's sea eagle can weigh 20 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 8 feet. It has a distinctive and impressive appearance, Schemf said, with a pronounced yellow beak, a black or dark brown body and large white shoulder patches.

So Thunderbird or mistaken identity? Well it is difficult judge the size of something flying , but imagine if it were real ? The chance to study it would be really fantastic.

A good article here :

And another here :


Rebecca V. said...

I saw a bird like this just lastnight August 11th 2009 at approximately 11:30 p.m. while watching the sky for meteors. It was easily as huge as a human..I am still in shock, my children even saw it! I live in Northwest Missouri and I know everyone will think I am a nut case, but this is 100% true!

Anonymous said...

I use to live in Togiak when I was in about 4th grade. School was out early and my auntie cam to get me and my siblings. Other families were getting picked up. I didn't know what was going on, but later found out about a bird big as a small plane. At some point it was a mile behind my uncle. How scary!

watsonian said...

I saw what i thought was a totempole carved from a old dead tree. Upon further investigation the head of the totempole turned and looked at me. It was 12:00 pm so i had a good look at this 6 foot tall black bird with a beak that could open a volkeswagon!
The date was approx nov,2005. Place was Spruce Missouri. This bird is a master of disguise.