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Cryptids

Thunderbird Cryptid: Bird with a 70ft Wingspan

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A thunderbird cryptid display in a museum.

The Thunderbird Cryptid is a giant bird resembling a condor or vulture that has been seen all over the United States.

Description of the Thunderbird Cryptid

Thunderbirds, as described in George M. Eberhart’s Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, are massive and intimidating birds with a wingspan that can reach up to 70 feet.

Described as resembling vultures or condors, thunderbirds have dark feathers, a light head, and occasionally, a white feather collar around their necks.

In addition to their mysterious movements through the sky, these birds have been known to abduct small animals such as calves, dogs, and in rare cases, children.

In contrast, the largest bird in North America, the California condor, has a wingspan of only 10 feet, while the wandering albatross, the largest bird in the world, has a wingspan of 12 feet.

We need to look to the past to find a larger bird, as some teratorns from prehistoric times had wingspans of 20 feet. Thunderbirds are even larger than some planes.

The thunderbird cryptid is a phenomenon that spans across the continent, originating from the myths and beliefs of multiple tribes who depict its image on rocks and totem poles.

In the legends of various tribes such as the Comanche, Chippewa, and Mandan, the thunderbird was believed to be the cause of storms, with its eyes emitting lightning and its wings producing thunder.

Despite being considered a benevolent creature towards humans, it engaged in intense battles with formidable opponents like giant snakes and killer whales, demonstrating its ferocity.

Thunderbird Sightings

The thunderbird cryptid as seen at North Dakota’s Writing Rocks.

Located in the northwest corner of North Dakota, at the border of Montana and Saskatchewan, is the Writing Rocks State Historic Site. Here, beneath a modest awning and protected by a rebar barrier, sit a pair of unassuming, four-foot-wide granite boulders adorned with petroglyphs of thunderbirds that are believed to date back between 300 to over 1,000 years.

One of the most well-known accounts dates back to 1890, when two cowboys in Arizona asserted that they had shot and killed a sizable bird. According to their description, the creature lacked feathers and possessed a head resembling that of an alligator. After taking down the bird, the cowboys reportedly transported its lifeless body back to town. The report implies that the creature resembled more of a pterodactyl or dragon rather than any bird known to exist today.

A thunderbird attempts to fly away with a child in Lawndale, Illinois. Photo: Cryptid Wiki

Another infamous thunderbird sighting happened in Lawndale, Illinois. At approximately 8 p.m. on July 25, 1977, 10-year-old Marlon Lowe was playing in his backyard while his mother, Ruth, was cleaning up in the kitchen.

Suddenly, she heard her son scream and rushed outside to witness two enormous birds with wingspans measuring nine or 10 feet attacking him. The birds relentlessly pecked at Marlon’s head and shoulders until one of them lifted the 56-pound boy 35 feet into the air.

Eventually, the birds abandoned their attempt to capture the child and disappeared.

A video discussing Thunderbird Sightings

Possible Explanations for the Thunderbird

Although thunderbirds have been suggested to be modern-day teratorns, this seems unlikely as no flying bird larger than an albatross or Andean condor has been discovered recently. While unlikely, it’s not impossible that they still exist.

Pterosaurs have been considered as suspects in thunderbird sightings, but this theory seems far-fetched as pterosaurs are believed to have gone extinct during the Late Cretaceous period around 66 million years ago.

Exotic non-native birds such as African crowned eagles and Andean condors may have contributed to thunderbird sightings by escaping from captivity, with African crowned eagles reportedly causing so-called “thunderbird attacks” and Andean condors sometimes being mistaken for the larger mythical thunderbird at first glance.

Some have suggested that thunderbird sightings may be hoaxes carried out by pranksters, or simply cryptid enthusiasts’ cases of misidentifying real/native American birds.

Have you ever seen a thunderbird? Let us know in the comments!

If you enjoyed learning about the thunderbird cryptid you might also be interested in learning about the Palmyra Wolves or Ukraine’s Mutant Spider

Further Reading

(Affiliate Link, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.)

Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology – Volume 2

George M. Eberhart

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Cryptids

The Awful

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The Awful cryptid as described by Vermont residents in 1925

In 1923, several residents of Berkshire and Richford, Vermont reported seeing a creature resembling a griffin, with a 20 foot wingspan and a serpentine tail.

“The Awful” Cryptid Sightings of 1925

Berkshire and Richford, Vermont are peaceful countryside towns located between Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, near the Canadian Province of Quebec.

In 1925 several residents of these towns reported encounters with an unusual flying creature.

The creature was described as being similar to the mythical Griffin, with a grayish color, a 20-foot wingspan, a snake-like tail, and big claws capable of holding a medium sized dog. These strange sightings caused panic among the locals who came to dub the creature “the Awful”.

The first sightings of the mysterious creature were reported by two sawmill workers in Richford. As they crossed the main street bridge, they saw a very large beast on the nearby rooftop of the Boright building, glaring at them. According to the tale, one of the men was so scared that he had a heart attack out of fear. He had to be carried home but eventually recovered. However, for weeks afterward, he had nightmares about the creature, waking up his family with screams during the night.

In the following months, locals kept reporting sightings of this mysterious creature, causing fear and panic among residents. Farmers shared stories of it flying over their fields, and others saw it landing on their house rooftops. One resident, Oella Hopkins, experienced this when she was hanging laundry outside. The family dog got upset and started barking, and when Oella looked, she saw the creature, known as The Awful, perched on her farmhouse roof, staring at her. Terrified, Oella ran inside and hid under her bed for hours.

Later Sightings of “The Awful”

By the end of 1925, sightings of the creature became less frequent and almost stopped completely by 1928. Even though people thought it had disappeared, some locals claimed to see it every now and then since the 1920s. One such person was Lisa Maskell from Montgomery, who said she spotted the creature near Trout River when she was a child. When she saw a drawing of a pterodactyl later on, she thought it looked like the creature she saw and believed it resembled The Awful.

In 2006, there were a few new reports suggesting that The Awful might have returned to Northern Vermont. In October 2006, a person wrote in the County Courier about a respected person in Richford who saw the creature suddenly appear and grab a big black crow from a pine tree. The witness was surprised and said the creature flew around his house three times.

After this article, more people shared sightings. A woman remembered seeing the monster when she was about ten. It was in a tree near the Trout River, watching them with its strange beak, reminding her of a pterodactyl.

A dowser named Edith Green said people in Richford have been nervous about the creature for a long time.

An older man mentioned that the creature has been seen often in the Gibou area for the past 25 years, even recently. Locals usually leave it alone, and it leaves them alone, with a few exceptions.

A resident of East Richford said the creature has been spotted recently around the Slide Road area. He mentioned you can often hear it before seeing it, making a strange, low screaming sound and the flapping of its large wings when it’s close.

Despite its scary appearance, the creature was never known to attack people; it seemed more like it was just watching. There’s one account mentioning it flying over Berkshire Field near Lost Nation Road and appearing to hold a baby or a small animal, although it’s more likely to have been an animal.

William DeFalco covers the story of The Awful

Possible Explanations for the Awful

Assuming the reports of the Awful are not just a hoax or an old wives tale what else could be going on here? It’s possible that soe type of rare, large bird is lurking in the wilds of Vermont and is only seen very rarely due to a lack of numbers. The Awful could simple have been a particularly large owl or Eagle.

If paranormal in origin, the Awful does bear a small resemblence to the Mothman of West Virginia. Perhaps it continues to lurk in the shadows, waiting to come our and warn residents of impending doom.

What do you think about the Awful? Tell us your theories in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about the Awful you might also be interested in the Lechuza, a strange owl-like creature or the Prime Hook Swamp Monster.

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Cryptids

Eric Shipton Discovers Possible yeti Footprints on Mount Everest

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In the fall of 1951, English mountain climbers Eric Shipton and Dr. Michael Ward were exploring routes to climb Mount Everest from Nepal. While on this mission Shipton discovered some huge footprints in the snow, possibly belonging to the fabled Yeti.

The strange footprints discovered on Mount Everest by Eric Shipton, Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Eric Shipton’s Everest Expedition

Eric Shipton’s expedition team including Edmund Hillary who later became the first man to reach the summit of Everest. Photo: Curious Archive

In 1951, when Mount Everest wasn’t a busy tourist spot, two English mountain climbers, Eric Shipton and Dr. Michael Ward, joined a trip to figure out how to reach Everest’s summit from Nepal. Shipton led the expedition, and their discoveries helped plan the successful climb by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. This expedition not only mapped the way up the tallest mountain but also marked a return to climbing after a pause during World War II.

The Yeti Footprints

At an altitude of around 15-16,000 feet, Shipton and Ward came across an unusual sight – a set of strange footprints in the snow in the Menlung Basin. Because they didn’t have proper tools to measure the footprints, they improvised using an ice pick, a backpack, and Michael Ward’s left boot. Shipton took photos as they closely examined what they found.

In one photo, comparing the boot to a footprint(below), it was evident that the print was much wider than a normal human foot, almost twice as wide, as Ward estimated. The footprint’s toes looked strange, with the big toe being lower and larger than expected for a human. It raised questions about how someone could walk in the snow without foot protection in freezing temperatures, even if it was a human print.

The photo of the Yeti footprint with Shipton’s Boot on Everest

Perplexed, Shipton and Ward tracked the mysterious footprints down the glacier for about a mile until they set up camp for the night. A few days later, their teammates W. H. Murray and Tom Bourdillon joined them and examined the peculiar footprints. Bourdillon noted in his diary that the prints had become somewhat distorted by the sun by the time he reached them, but he still found them surprising and unexplained.

After the photos were published, several expeditions took place in the Himalayas and Central Asia to determine if the creature in Shipton’s photographs actually existed. However, no evidence was found to prove the existence of the Yeti. Some accused Shipton of staging a hoax, but others who had seen the footprints vouched for the authenticity of Shipton’s photographs.

Possible Explanations for the Footprints

Deformed Humans

While the footprints could be evidence of Yeti living in the Himalayas there are a number of other theories about where these footprints could have come from.

Dr. Michael Ward, a medical doctor who was a part of Shipton’s expedition had an interesting theory about the footprints. He believed that the footprints could have been made by a local Tibetan with differently-shaped feet. In communities without easy access to medical help, foot abnormalities from birth might remain.

Dr Ward had seen Tibetans with deformed feet and some who walked with bare feet in the snow.

One case occurred during the Silver Hut Expedition in 1960-1961, which stayed at 19,000ft in the Everest region during the winter. A 35-year-old Nepalese pilgrim named Man Bahadur, who usually lived at 6000ft, visited. He spent 14 days at 15,300ft and above, not wearing shoes or gloves throughout. He walked in the snow and on rocks with bare feet without getting frostbite. He had minimal clothing and no sleeping bag or protective gear except a woolen coat.

He was monitored for four days without shelter between 16,500ft and 17,500ft, with temperatures as low as -13°C to -15°C at night and below freezing during the day. Eventually, he developed cracks in his toe skin, which became infected, and he went to lower levels for treatment. If any European members of the group had followed the same routine, they would likely have suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia.

Bears

Yeti researcher Daniel C. Taylor believes he has convincingly proven that Yeti prints are made by Asiatic Black bears standing on their hind legs. He has recreated the footprints in the snow using casts from a black bear and believes them to be very similar.

Taylor believes that the long footprints in the snow from 1951 were made by the Asiatic black bear, known as Ursus thibetanus. When the bear put its front paw down, it didn’t press too hard into the snow, so the claws on the front paw didn’t leave clear marks. After that, the hind paw landed on the back part of the print, stretching it to about twelve inches in length.

The Nepalese Legend of the Yeti

Certain local Sherpas think that the Himalayas are home to unusual beings, and they view the Yeti (also commonly called the “abominable snowman”) as a guardian. On the other hand, some believe it to be a threat.

“There is a kind of mysterious creature that lives in the Himalayas,” explained Ang Tshering Sherpa, leader of the Nepal Mountaineering Association in Katmandu, who is from the Khumbu region.

Bob Gymlan discuses why he believes the footprints found by Eric Shipton are evidence of the existence of Yeti

Do you think there are Yeti in the Himalayas? Tell us your theories in the comments!

If you enjoyed this article you might also be interested in a child lost in the woods that was protected by a bigfoot or a bigfoot that was hit by a train.

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