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Thunderbird Report #2: August 2015

I think thunderbirds, (giant, coal-black birds that are known to carry off people!) are very rare. They are not reported as much as other cryptids, like Bigfoot. In June, I was writing a thunderbird chapter in my second book and decided to start a project on this blog to try to find sightings of thunderbirds and learn more about them.

Now, welcome to the second "Thunderbird Report" on TCZ. I was going to post it earlier this month, but I've had the fair and other things and haven't been able to until now. This is a list of sightings of T-bird sightings I've been able to find since the last Report that have occurred recently, and some on the Missing Thunderbird Photograph.  If YOU have ANY information on the missing photo, please comment and tell me about it! I'd love to hear about it. And I'm sure everyone else in the cryptozoology world would be, too!

Thunderbird Report, #2, August 16, 2015


Besides the one I heard about last year and discussed in the first report, I have not gotten any info on thunderbird reports.


I found a couple of reports from last summer/fall on the Center for Cryptozoological Studies Facebook page.

  • MAY or JUNE 2014, Norvelt, Pennsylvania
South-southwest of the Latrobe Airport, a man looking at a cloud formation saw a black bird with silver-gray flight feathers. He said the bird was two times larger than a vulture. It had a very large wingspan, broad wings, and a thick body. He observed the bird for about five minutes before it flew out of sight.

  • MAY or JUNE, 2014, Norvelt, Pennsylvania
The girlfriend of the first witnesses saw a giant bird within a week of his sighting.

  • AUGUST 24, 2014, Scottdale, Pennsylvania
A man moving furniture looked up into the sky and spotted a large black bird with "huge wings" flying above him. It was circling and gained altitude with each circle. He watched it for a minute before it disappeared into the clouds. He said the wingspan was more than 28 feet. He saw a distinct head and beak. Other people with him also saw the bird. He also heard of some other men talking about a Thunderbird they saw. 


First, some history and the story.

In the late 1880s, a California newspaper reported some strange events around Lake Elizabeth. A strange creature was killing livestock. Don Felipe Rivera spotted the thing attacking a steer (which managed to get away.) He said the thing was forty-five feet long and had wings that folded against its back.

Two ranchers armed with Winchester rifles spotted a creature that looked like "a huge alligator with an extremely elongated tail and an immense pair of wings." They followed the creature on horseback and shot it. 

In the May 1963 issue of Saga, Jack Pearl wrote an article about big bird sightings and included the story of the Tombstone Thunderbird of the 1880s/90s. He claimed that in 1886 the Tombstone Epitaph had "published a photograph of a huge bird nailed to a wall. The newspaper said that it had been shot by two prospectors and hauled into town by wagon. Lined up in front of the bird were six grown men with their arms outstretched, fingertip to fingertip. The creature measured about 36 feet from wingtip to wingtip."

In September of the same year, H. M. Cranmer wrote to FATE magazine and said that the story of the dead thunderbird was true and the photo was published in newspapers across America. Ivan T. Sanderson also remembered seeing the photograph and claimed he had a photocopy of it, but it was lost when he loaned it to some associates. Some editors of FATE thought they had once published the photo in that magazine, but their search through the back issues failed to uncover it.

So, why is this such a mysterious story? Why can't someone just find the thunderbird photo?

Well, because it's missing.

No cryptozoologist, or anyone else, except the few people who claim they saw the infamous photo, has been able to find it. Anywhere. Not in any newspaper, magazine, book, nothing. What the heck happened to it?

Cryptozoologist Mark Hall thinks that the description of the photo caused a "Shared memory," meaning that people who heard about it thought they had seen it once, somewhere, but it does not really exist. Others think it could be sitting, covered in dust, somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered.

A far stranger theory, though, is that the photo did actually exist, and appeared in media like the Tombstone Epitaph, Saga, FATE, and also possibly True magazine and Argosy, and that someone or something went back in time and erased it from history.

Others think that the photograph of a stork below is the thunderbird photo.
Did this photo inspire stories of a thunderbird?

I do not know if the thunderbird photo is/was real. If it is, and actually shows a thunderbird, then where is it? Why has no one seen it since the 1890s, or the 1960s, as some claim?

If you, the reader, have any information on the thunderbird photo, especially a location of a copy, please, please let me know in the comments.

If you have seen a giant, flying bird or bird-like creature yourself, please let me know about that, too!

The next Thunderbird Report will be posted sometime in September. Until then, keep watching the skies!


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