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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Large bird like creature seen in Fresno skies

Kwakwaka'wakw totem pole depicting
a Thunderbird perched on the top.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Last week while attending the monthly Fresno Filmmakers Alliance mixer, a friend of mine approached me and asked me if I knew of any thunderbird sightings in the Fresno area as his wife and young son had recently spotted a large bird like creature with a wing span estimated to be over 12 feet in width.

For those who don't know what a thunderbird is term used in the cryptozoological world to describe large bird like creatures that are associated with the Thunderbird of Native American mythology. Most thunderbirds sightings are of the feathered type, although some sightings have reported the creatures to have lizard like features similar to a pterosaur.

Modern thunderbird sightings go back over 100 years with one of the first stories reportedly occurring in April 1890 in Arizona where two cowboys killed a giant birdlike creature with a huge wingspan. It was described as having smooth skin, featherless wings similar to that of a bat and a face that looked like an alligator. They are said to have taken the carcass back to town where they pinned it on the outside of barn with it's wings outstretched the entire length.

Sightings continued into the 20th Century when in the 1940's several sightings occurred in Illinois where witnesses at first thought they were seeing a plane flying overhead until they saw the "plane" flapping it's wings. A few weeks later in another part of the state a man and his son saw a large bird creature flying at a height estimated to be around 500 feet and the shadow it cast was the size of a small passenger airplane.

One of the more stranger occurrences, and one I wanted to share, happened on July 25, 1977 in Lawndale, Illinois. A group of boys were playing in their back yard when two large birds approached and chased the boys. Two escaped unharmed, but the third boy, 10 year old Marlon Lowe, did not. One of the birds clamped it's talons around his shoulders and lifted the now terrified boy about two feet off the ground and carried him some distance before Low was able to fight off the bird, getting it to release him.

Most viewed this as some sort of tall tale made up by the boys, but given the description of the birds one has to wonder. The description matched that of an Andean condor; a large back bird with a white ringed neck and a wingspan of 10 feet. There's a problem though, the condor's talons are said to not be strong enough to lift that of a heavy object (i.e. a 10 year old boy). So what then did the boys see?

So this leads me back to the Fresno sighting. What exactly did the two see? Was it just a normal bird (say a hawk or crane) mistaken for something else? Someone mentioned a Californian Condor, but that is highly unlikely as the habitat for this species is in Southern California. Could a large bird like creature, one that was the inspiration for the Native American Thunderbird myth, be in the Fresno area skies? If there have been more sightings, hopefully those witnesses will hear of this article and share their stories.


Anonymous said...

I work at local buisness in clovis, and last week i saw what i thought was a very large(wingspan about 10ft give or take) circleing above a empty field on herndon and fowler. i immidatley told my co-workers, and watched in aww for at least 5 min, then it flew away from us. i took a video with my cell but it is pretty grainy quality. im not sure if it was cryptid or a big bird, but i do know it was unusual. im curious as to where in town the other sighting was?

Bakhirun said...

When I lived and worked in Fresno I frequently got the bird. But that was usually from cute husky dangerous farm boys who failed to approve of my active participation in the Fresno Resistance, particularly since I had been hired as a Perfesser to teach Vietnamese students at Fresno State College for the Criminally Inane. Actually it was my students, brought over by USAID/CIA to train as future flunkies of so-called Republic of Vietnam ('murken stooge nation) who radicalized me against the war. I kept my shades drawn and blinds closed and curtains pulled as there were a number of sharpshooters in the San Joaquin Valley who wouldn't have minded taking a potshot at me, a la Edwin Walker and L.H. "Patsy" Oswald. My high point was showing up at an antiwar demonstration on campus wearing my two-dollar Malenkov triple-breasted suit (lapels as wide as an aircraft runway, florid necktie from Tijuana), whipping out my draft card and pouring catsup on it and eating it. Fresburg would never be the same. And in terms of UFOs I flew one above the campus with the rhetorical question, never answered by the authorities: HOW MUCH MEAT DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR MACHINE?

Bakhirun said...

Eating my draft card nicked me a five-and-dime with the authorities, under the charge DESTRUCTION OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. I offered to give it back to them after the customary processing through the digestive tract but they demurred. So I hightailed it out of FSC, in homage to Danny Kaye, who sang "Hello Fresno, Goodbye!" long before. Lyndon Johnson had more B-52s and ICBMs than I could muster so I hit the road for Japan and Canada. Haven't been back to that part of the Flat Earth since.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago me and a friend where in her car by Fashion Fair (Shaw Ave) and all of a sudden when we were waiting for the light to change a huge shadow flew over the street and went by really fast. When I looked out the window I didn't see a plane or hear a plane. I didn't see anything. It was really weird. And that's not the first time that has happened.

Anonymous said...

I believe I may have encountered one of those mysterious birds a year ago when my friends and I were playing some basketball at Ewing Elementary School on Olive and Winery. While playing, we spotted a weird looking creature out on the soccer field. The creature’s color was like a leathery brown. It walked on two legs like a bird, and its neck was a little long. So as the creature distracted us from playing basketball, one of my buddies decided to go get a closer look by trying to sneak up on it and chased the creature. That thing ran, and it ran extremely fast because my buddy is a pretty fast runner, and he was nowhere near that thing. And when that creature ran, it ran like a dinosaur, raptor-like movement. Then all of a sudden, that thing took flight, which caught everybody that was there off guard because it did not look like it had wings to fly. When it flaps its wings, there were no feathers. The wings seemed smooth like bats’ wings flapping!

Lee said...

Three or four years ago I saw a large bird over St. Agnes. It was flying in a tight circle for about five minutes. I tried to take a picture but my phone died. I could not tell any details on it due to the fact that I was across the street while viewing. What it looked like was more of a silhouette. When it flew off it headed North and was out of site in less than a minute.

Robert Meyers said...

Hi I know this post is old, but back around the early 2000's when I was a kid, one night me my mom and my sister seen this. We live on Herndon and palm at these apartments called Windermere I believe. Well one night as we were walking to our apartment, we seen a huge bird sitting on top of our apartment building. It must have been at least 6 feet tall. As we approached this bird spread it's wings, which must have been 4-6 meters long, and flew off. But when it flew away it had a tail with a small light on the end, what kind of look like a lightbulb. It also screeched really loud. Believe me or not, this is what I seen.

Anonymous said...

I’ve seen a bird like creature same size around 10 feet in wingspan while driving on the 41. Seen it swoop up from the ground at a light intersection on the 41 while passing by.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this but me and my brother live in Kerman near a lot of almond fields and we saw something that wing span was the width of the rows it looked almost featherless

Anonymous said...

Do you still have that video