Saturday, April 9, 2011
Wilson Library light on books about thunderbirds?
Last week, I spent some time in the library searching for books that contained actual stories of real-life thunderbird encounters. While searching the library’s online database with the word “thunderbird” and other related search terms, most of the books I found involved legends and mythology of Native Americans, particularly those who live in the Pacific Northwest.
Although native myths vary between tribes, in general the mythical thunderbird is thought to be responsible for bringing storms and rain. Thunderbirds are said to be massive, eagle-like creatures that create thunder by flapping their wings and shoot lightning bolts out of their eyes. The thunderbird is a regular fixture on top of totem poles of native tribes in the Northwest. (see photo, from travel-vancouver-island.com)
I found myself wondering to what extent mythology plays in reported modern-day sightings of cryptids. I know that the Yeti, known to the people who live near the Himalayas, is seen to many locals as a mythological creature as much as it is seen as a cryptid that still lives today. How much does mythology and myth affect cryptozoology? That would be an interesting topic for a separate paper.
I had some difficulty locating books that spoke at length about real-life encounters with thunderbirds. I found references to thunderbirds in two cryptozoology reference books, Giants, Monsters & Dragons by Carol Rose and The encyclopedia of monsters by Daniel Cohen. There wasn’t a whole lot of information I haven’t already picked up off of Wikipedia. The thunderbird is said to be a massive bird-like creature with a wingspan up to 20 feet or more. It is sometimes reported to have scaly skin like that of a reptile. It is also said to be capable of picking up a deer or small child with its talons, which is nearly impossible for even the largest birds of prey known to exist.
I’m going to spend some more time in the library next week, and I will focus on other sources of information to find some specific stories and reported sightings. I know there are some interesting ones out there.