Unresolved: Cryptids - The Thunderbird

The world of unsolved mysteries consists of many interesting topics including murders, myths, paranormal activity, aliens and more. Cryptids however, are what I want to research next.

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In this first post, I want to talk about the Thunderbird. The thunderbird is a mythical creature among some Indigenous tribes including the Algonquian peoples, the Menominee, Ojibwe, Siouan and the Ho-Chunk peoples. It is known to be a supernatural entity of power and strength. They are carnivorous beasts said to live in the forest.

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The thunderbird in Indigenous mythology, www.mythology.net

In Algonquian mythology, the thunderbird is the ruler of the upper world. It creates thunder by flapping its wings, as well as lightning bolts which it casts down at the creatures of the underworld. Traditionally, the thunderbird is depicted as a spread-eagled bird with the wings horizontal and the head in profile. It is also commonly depicted with the head facing forward, overall presenting an X-shaped appearance.

Ojibwe mythology suggests that the thunderbird was created by the Nanabush spirit and was designed to fight underwater spirits. Mythology among the Ojibwe also states that the thunderbird was created to punish the humans who broke moral rules. They are said to have lived in the four directions and arrived with other birds in the spring, and in the fall they would migrate south after the conclusion of the underwater spirits' most dangerous season.

In Menominee mythology, the thunderbirds are said to control the rain and hail, take joy in fighting and deeds of greatness. They are the enemies of the great horned snake(the Misikinubik, a mythical underwater serpent) and have saved Earth and mankind from them. They are said to be messengers of the Great Sun, the Natchez tribes' uppermost chief.

I couldn't find great information regarding the thunderbird in Siouan mythology. However, Ho-Chunk mythology says that a man who has a vision of the bird during a solidary fast will become a war chief of the people.

The most famous story of the thunderbird happened back in 1977 in Lawndale, Illinois. While playing outside, 10-year old Martin Lowe was attacked by two unidentified, large birds. One of them picked him up and carried him for 30 feet before his mother ran to him and chased the birds away. It is reported that many people had seen the attack happen. They described the birds to have a 4.5 foot body, a wingspan of 8 feet, a 6 inch hooked bill and a white ring around their necks.

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Illustration of the 1977 Lawndale attack, www.cryptidz.fandom.com

Another report of a thunderbird sighting happened in 1890 when two Arizona cowboys claimed to have shot and killed a very large bird. They described it to have no feathers and a head like an alligator. After they killed it, they dragged it back to town. The report that was made suggests that the bird resembled a pterodactyl or dragon and not a regular bird. There are many who believe the identity of these monstrous birds are pterosaurs. It very much looks like it in the photo below. How interesting and wild would it be if it were dinosaurs who are said to be extinct behind some of these sightings? Do you believe this account to be authentic or totally made-up?

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Tombstone, Arizona thunderbird, www.truewestmagazine.com.

It is possible that the thunderbird could be modern-day teratorns, a genus of bird that went extinct probably around the last ice age. However, no flying bird bigger than an Andean condor has been discovered...yet.

There is a very good possibility that in the case of the attack on 10-year old Martin in 1977, it were two Andean condors who escaped from a nearby zoo. I am very confident with this possibility. Andean condors have an average wingspan of 10.5 feet, a body roughly 4.3 feet and a white ring around their necks. How coincidental is that?

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Andean condor, www.bbc.com

If not, maybe they were Californian condors or another type of condor? I think if anyone saw this bird, a bird who wasn't in their own habitat and very uncommon to the people of that area and maybe heard about the thunderbird myths among Indigenous tribes or didn't, anyone could easily believe this was some sort of legendary species. And, it very well could explain this apparent attack on the boy. Any animal would be angry, especially if it was already an aggressive species and it was unwillingly living in an unfamiliar habitat and it escaped.

In more recent thunderbird news, a woman reported seeing a bird while driving with a wingspan nearly as 'wide as the road' back in 2018. In May of 2013, two friends were walking near Bryn Athen Castle in Pennsylvania and claimed to have seen an extremely loud, black bird. They said the bird was sitting above them and when they walked by, it was startled and the bird flew 100 feet away. The two stated that it had a wingspan of 10 feet and was about 4 feet tall. Apparently, this isn't the only sighting of a thunderbird in Pennsylvania. Back in September of 2001 near Greensburg, a 19-year old claimed to have seen a large bird with a wingspan of 10-15 feet and a body of 3 feet flying over Route 119. The witness's attention was grabbed when they heard a sound that was similar to 'flags flapping in a thunderstorm.' Greensburg, Pennsylvania around Route 119 seems to be a hotspot for thunderbird sightings. In August of 2010, four friends were sitting around having a barbeque when they spotted a large bird (wingspan of 10 feet and a body of 4.5-5 feet tall) flying 30-40 feet above a tree in the next yard. They said that after it flew passed the tree, it headed down the road. Apparently, they weren't the only ones who witnessed the creature. A guy who lived down the road, along the birds flight path also saw it.

I found these other reports at https://www.liveabout.com/the-giant-thunderbird-returns-3862215 I have to mention that I was not able to find any news reports regarding the first two accounts. However, I was able to find a second mention of the third account at http://www.salem-news.com/articles/september012010/thunderbird-sighting-sg.php I don't know if these reports are true. You can read about them, as well as other reports on those links I posted above and decide for yourself.

Are there massive unknown birds lurking about the forests? Did some pterosaurs survive? Is there a new, bigger species of bird out there waiting to be discovered or.. rediscovered? What do you think?

Anyway, thank you for coming by! Don't forget to follow for more!

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