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Archive for the ‘thunderbirds’ Category

wingedcryptids

Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters blog, a daily stack of reports sent to him by eyewitnesses who say they have observed bird-like beings, has become the go-to place to check out unknown sky-cryptids. In his new book, “Winged Cryptids,” Strickler climbs into the cockpit to take on the daunting role of crypto-ornithologist, showing readers that our skies fairly teem with flapping, gliding and diving air-beasts.

Why the interest in big birds? Strickler says part of it is personal, explaining he was hooked by his own sightings of them in 1981 and 1988. The latter event occurred while investigating reports near Baltimore, Maryland, and the experience left him both terrified and fascinated. He wanted to know more about the massive creatures – some with wingspans more than 20 feet wide– and vowed to seek for answers. He has since received myriads of reports of a wide variety of winged cryptids, including the great puzzle of bat-like flying humanoids over Chicago, northern Illinois and other nearby states.

The winged wonders are not just a Midwestern thing. Sightings range from California to Buffalo and beyond. I also love the book’s mysterious cover art with its ancient-looking, feathered wings, but no body. And I’m still shuddering at the gargoyles in southwestern Florida and the flying skeleton-like thing.

Overall, “Winged Cryptids” is a book that I’m glad to have in my library, perhaps because it reminds me of my own signature mantra when encountering strange beings… always look behind you, always look up.  Available Here 

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Great flying creatures–from giant humanoid bat-beasts to heavenly, silver-white,  stork-like flyers–date back to the art and story cultures of most ancient civilizations around the world. Many of us are already familiar with ornithoids of early Sumerian and Egypt, Native American thunder birds, and other well-known examples, so it’s always a delight to find giant birds in places I’ve personally missed. A few months ago in Loveland, Colorado, my husband and happened upon just such a treasure. We were there to show a half-hour sneak peek of Return to Wildcat Mountain at Longmont’s Charles Dickens Horror Film Festival, when we found something lovely.

Here, the various types of Chapungu or “Great Spirit Bird” of Zimbabwe are depicted in stone sculptures created by modern-day African artists, the Shona people. The sculptures–with explanatory plaques–are displayed in a large, gracefully landscaped park. The Great Spirit Birds are said to protect the people and to warn of coming bad events (Pt. Pleasant’s Mothman and bridge collapse come to mind as an American parallel).

I’ve included a few of my own photos here but there are many more resources online. A good place to start is at http://www.chapungusculpturepark.com . (Note: Links have been a bit problematic) And keep looking up! Who knows what else is flying around up there, waiting for some writer or artisan to take  lasting note?

 

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Received report Oct 23, 2018, 1:12 AM

A man who wishes to remain anonymous said he had a sighting he could not explain, and wasn’t going to tell anyone about it, but recently changed his mind hoping someone could identify it. The sighting took place in summer, 2018, in Love’s Park, Illinois, only about 20 miles south of the Wisconsin border, and included his daughter. They are habitual sky gazers, he said, and enjoy watching planes on their flight paths to and from O’Hare Airport. But what they saw that day just before dusk was no aircraft.

What he described as “the thing we saw” appeared to be about 100 feet in the air, flying due east over their heads and then circling once before continuing its eastbound path. It was close enough, he said, that they felt they had a good view.

He wrote, “This very large bird was gliding in the air above us. I cannot say for sure the exact size of this bird, because it was in the sky and there wasn’t anything to reference it with.

“This large bird was about 6 feet long, and 15-20 feet wide!  This thing was huge!!!  One thing really stuck out when we watched it, the wings did NOT flap like a normal bird. It just glided.”

The man said the closest photo he found was at Atlas Obscura’s Web site:

The man added they have seen cranes, eagles and other large birds in the area, but this one was much larger than any of those. He described it as dark in color, white ring around its neck. “The wings had a white stripe along the edge of its wings,” he said, “and the wings had feathers.”

He said he researched birds of all types for weeks but found nothing that resembled what he saw. He said, “But that is how I came across your site. I bought your book (American Monsters) and began reading it, and saw others have seen something similar to me! That is when I realized that we were not alone, and I have now chosen to speak to you about the sighting.”

He added, “But the large bird we saw was almost black in color, white ring around its neck, white stripe along its wings edge, and VERY LARGE! It did not move its wings either, it just glided. I have saw turkey vultures before.  In a way is does resemble it. But the size and colors did not! This thing put a turkey vulture to shame, in size!”

I’m not sure what this could be, either. The closest I could come is a Steller’s sea eagle, see this National Geographic photo with its dark feathers and white trim. Its wingspan is eight feet, smaller than this reported big bird but still really impressive, I’m sure. Illinois has a history of large bird sightings dating back many decades; perhaps this one will be added to the list. I hope sky gazers of that area will all spend some time looking up in case the dark-feathered one makes another fly-by.

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I like to release book reviews in twos, for some reason. I think it’s because when I finish reading one really good book, it piques my appetite for another great read right away.

This time I’m pairing Ken Gerhard’s A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts and Barton Nunnelly’s Mysterious Kentucky, the Dark and Bloody Ground. These two gentlemen, and I mean that in the highest sense of that word for they are both truly gentlemen, have each written a book with the word “mysterious” in the title and a wide swath of unexplained beasts and phenomena cavorting through the interior pages. While Gerhard goes global, however, Nunnelly sticks to his home turf of Ol’ Kentuck. Together or one at a time, these books provide a rich harvest of unknown tidbits that will have readers gobbling every word Gerhard and Nunnelly have served up. To quote the immortal request of Charles Dickens’ urchin Oliver Twist, all I can say is, “Please, sir[s], I want some more.”

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts; Encounters with Cryptid Creatures by Ken Gerhard

Most people probably wouldn’t consider a quiet cluster of children more frightening than, say, a modern day version of a werewolf – until they look in the children’s eyes and Scan_20170428see only glistening black pools. At that point, for me, the Black-eyed Kids or BEK’s gain a few points on the mysterious creature horror scale. These and other creatures that are not your grandfather’s monsters are discussed alongside more traditional entities in Ken Gerhard’s “A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts.” Readers will find themselves contemplating the Polish Wilkolak, sort of a vampire/werewolf combo, for instance, or pondering whether a photo of an alleged Chupacabras is truly a depiction of the blood-sucking goat killer or something else that simply appears otherworldly but has a mundane explanation.

Mundane is not a word I’d use to describe any part of this book, however. Whether readers are newbies still wrapping their craniums around the vast array of beasties, or seasoned enthusiasts seeking to hone their knowledge of favorite cryptids or catch up on the latest reports, Gerhard’s ghoulish gathering provides an irresistible gateway to the unknown. It’s a volume I’ll be keeping close at hand.

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2; the Dark and Bloody Ground by Barton M. Nunnelly

20170410_211045This is it…the book I and many other fans of Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 1 have been pining for Barton Nunnelly to finish and deliver. Well, he has at long last delivered, and how!!

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2 covers more strangeness of each area of the huge state Native Americans considered cursed land, from historic lore to present day happenings. And joy of joys, the section on Kentucky Bigfoots alone comprises 118 pages of pure Sasquatch encounter bliss. It’s a hefty tome, packed chockablock from the first story which concerns, appropriately, Kentucky’s first people, to the last entry, Kentucky’s Chernobyl! The book must be seen and held to convey just how info-dense and well organized it is.

Nunnelly is also a gifted artist, and his illustrations enlighten the research and careful writing that take this book to the level of must-have permanent collection shelf of my personal library. The sense of immersion in the Blue Grass State is so complete, I almost looked around for a few blades of teal-colored grass as I sat and read. And as spooky as Nunnelly has revealed Kentucky to be, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a few stems materialized on my bookshelf. After reading this book, I can guarantee stranger things have happened.

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This was another of those freewheeling dialogues that I so enjoy. Listen to The Paranormal View podcast recorded Nov. 4, 2016!

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Thunderbirds, mothmen and other unknown flying things are some of the most puzzling of cryptids. They appear in the sky or a nearby meadow, amaze lucky witnesses, and then fly away without any hint as to their intent. Sometimes they seem to portend doom, as in the famous case of Point Pleasant, W. VA’s Mothman, which many think was a harbinger of the tragic Silver Bridge collapse.

 

In other cases, such as the northwestern Wisconsin daylight sighting by John Bolduan that begins my “American Monsters” book, witnesses are left feeling perplexed yet privileged to have witnessed such a spectacle. Bolduan watched in awe as the tall, silvery-feathered bird took to the air and displayed a 22-foot wingspan.

 

There’s another example of that flighty ambiguity in my next book due out this fall, titled “Monsters Among Us, an Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms and Odd Phenomena.” In this incident, a central Wisconsin woman witnessed a gigantic, large bird standing on a bridge near Black River Falls. She was told by a Native American elder that she had seen a Thunderbird.

 

Why am I bringing these examples up now? I’ve often wished that I had some way to help  interpret these incidents, but had never found much contemporary material aside from well-known Thunderbird lore. I was thrilled recently, then, to stumble across a gleam of illumination in my summer reading pile, in a book about one man’s solo canoe adventure down the Mississippi River. The beautifully written work, Nick Lichter’s The Road of Souls, Reflections on the Mississippi, also describes many of the places long considered sacred or otherwise important by our indigenous people.

 

One of these places is Rock Island, Illinois (specifically, the area known as Rock Island Arsenal across the river from Bettendorf, Iowa). Lichter cites the translated autobiography Life of Black Hawk to explain that this island was once considered a hunting, fishing and horticultural paradise by Blackhawk’s people, the Sac or Sauk. I’ll quote just the last half of Chief Blackhawk’s own statement from  Lichter’s book:

 

“In my early life, I spent many happy days on this island. A good spirit had care of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks immediately under the place where the fort now stands, and has often been seen by our people. He was white, with large wings like a swan’s, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which he inhabited, for fear of disturbing him. But the noise of the fort has driven him away, and no doubt a bad spirit has taken his place!”

 

Lichter adds, “The swan’s cave was long ago dynamited out of existence.”

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(Image shared from http://cdn26.us1.fansshare.com/photo/mississippiriver/shannon-mississippi-river-watershed-wikimedia-commons-delta-333095664.jpg)

Might the big birds seen up and down the Mississippi since Chief Blackhawk’s day be embodiments of that wandering spirit bird? Blackhawk doesn’t directly call the spirit bird a swan; he merely says it is white, has wings like a swan and is ten times its size. That’s very reminiscent of what Bolduan described. And Webb Lake, where it appeared, is only about five or six miles from the Mississippi in Burnett County, Wisconsin. Moreover, the other encounter I mentioned on the bridge in central Wisconsin was near Black River Falls, a tributary of the Mississippi.

 

This is just my own fanciful thought, but maybe that great, spirit bird is still winging over the Mississippi, setting down now and again as it searches for another place of peace– another earthly paradise to watch over. I believe it’s as good an explanation of these huge creatures as any.

My final thought is a question inspired by Blackhawk’s words when he suggested a “bad spirit” might have taken the great bird’s place… I can’t help but wonder what shape that bad spirit might have taken…

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Only a couple of days after my last blog about the differences between pterosaur-like flying creatures reported today and what scientists have learned about the actual, prehistoric birds, a new witness came forth. This sighting took place in 2008, about twenty miles north of San Jose, California. It occurred in daylight at close range, and the witness had time for a good look at something that is not supposed to be! In the witness’ own words:

Hello Linda,

I’m delighted to have come across your website. Here’s my report of a sighting of what I believe was a pterosaur in 2008. My sighting was a little different than the drawings in the article you posted, “Pterosaurs or Terror-Sores.”

On or about Sept. 3, 2008, on a clear, sunny day around 11 a.m., I was driving North on Hwy. 680 between Fremont and Pleasanton, California. Just at the Hwy. 84 off-ramp, I looked up when something large caught my eye and what I saw was a small Pterosaur flying about 30 ft. above my car. Talk about “driver distraction!” It flew directly over me (perpendicular to my direction), heading East toward Livermore. The reason I can estimate its distance from me, is that it appeared to be about 10 feet above the top of the traffic cam located at the Hwy. 680/84 junction which I was approaching at that moment.

The creature looked very similar to the paintings of the “Ropen” of Indonesia. I would estimate it had about a 3-5 ft. wingspan. It was light tan, all leathery skin, and the most astonishing thing was that it had no feathers! I could see the wrinkles & texture of its skin moving over its bones as it flew. The eyes were very large, round eyes, and it appeared to be young, or at least I had that impression because of its size and some of its features, like the tail and the bump on the back of its head were not as developed as those depicted of adult Ropen/Pterosaurs. I thought it probably flew at night because of the size of its eyes, which were perfectly round and HUGE – much, much larger than an Owl’s, for example. The eyes probably took up 40%+ of its cranial-facial area. As my rational mind was striving to take this all in, I wondered why it was flying in daylight, though it did not seem to be alarmed by anything.

The wings were triangular, slightly rounded at the tips, but I did not see any “hands” attached to the wings as these creatures are sometimes portrayed. The back of its triangular-shaped head came to a rounded point, jutting out a few inches. Its tail was not much more than a pointed “stump.” It had a fairly broad triangular-shaped beak that was longer than the “bump” at the back of its head, perhaps about 10-12 inches. Again, I was surprised at the breadth of its beak because it differed from drawings I’ve seen in books. But this was no Pelican, Bat, nor anything else I’ve ever seen flying through the sky. It had no feathers. As it flew, it’s clawed feet hung down slightly, from its body positioned more toward the middle of its underside (i.e., they were not positioned at the back of the body under the tail, nor were they attached to the wings). Its large claws were slightly curled and facing backwards. I thought it looked a bit clumsy as it flew, in that its feet and legs were not tucked up tight against the body during flight like birds, they were just dangling down. I recall there were 3 visible “toes.”

I was so shocked, but also felt awe and excitement and wanted to pull over to watch it. But, alas, I had to force myself to take my eyes off of it and mind the driving. It would have been a dangerous place to stop on that busy freeway, let alone to get out of the car, and by the time I could have pulled over, the hills would have blocked the view in the direction it was flying, and of course it would be far away by then. I witnessed this creature for 6 – 8 seconds before I had to tear my gaze away, but that was enough time to absolutely know I was looking at something very, very strange — something I had only seen in books about dinosaurs.

I have a keen interest and curiosity about nature and the nature of reality, cryptozoology, metaphysics, and spirituality. Some would consider me a good observer. This experience felt like a privilege to have been a witness to a secret aspect of our natural world. Perhaps I somehow briefly interfaced with another dimension, but it was as real and 3rd dimensional as any other animal. I told a couple of family members about it and most of them do not believe me — but I know what I saw. It’s exciting and validating to read that more sightings of similar creatures are emerging in many locations.

Thank you for your great blog. I’m sure to be a frequent visitor.

Sincerely,
Kris

[Also see this article for ROPEN, the flying cryptid mentioned by Kris]

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