Monday, June 6, 2011
After spending the last three months researching stories and legends of this mysterious creature, it’s pretty much impossible not to have developed some opinions on the validity of some of these reported sightings. I definitely believe that people who report seeing large flying creatures are certainly seeing something. However, I’m not entirely convinced that what these people are seeing are in fact extremely large birds. Most of the information about thunderbirds comes from eyewitness accounts. I find it odd that no solid evidence—in the form of bones or other types of remains—has been found that would corroborate stories of extremely large birds, especially ones with capabilities like those reportedly belonging to thunderbirds.
I think a reasonable thing to do when exploring thunderbird sightings is to consider the possibility that people are really seeing massively large birds, but instead of these creatures being undiscovered cryptids of mythical proportions, perhaps they are just species of known birds that witnesses are just vastly overstating in size and appearance.
The reports of thunderbirds are compelling, and these creatures have a long history in both our culture and the cultures of other groups of people that have come before us. There is a large body of research and other work revolving around sightings of these creatures. Some aspects of that research are more credible than others. However, I really think that until we find a “smoking gun,” likely in the form of a mass sighting or the recovery of an actual specimen, the thunderbird will remain simply a legend and a character in some incredible stories.
If anyone wants to check out an excellent book on cryptozoology, with solid research and careful referencing, search "Thunderbirds: America's Living Legends of Giant Birds," on Google Books.
Link to video
Monster Quest does a pretty fantastic job with this episode. The producers examine the history of thunderbird sightings, recognizing the connection to native mythology. They also contact zoology experts and others who work in professions related to large birds of prey to get expert insight into some of the more famous thunderbird tales. The episode includes original video footage of supposed thunderbirds, and it examines the validity of the footage and reporting sightings while remaining impartial. One of the most interesting segments of the episode deals with the 1977 Illinois report that I mentioned earlier. The producers of Monster Quest were actually able to track down the young boy—now grown up—who claims to have been picked up and carried through the air by an extremely large black bird with a wingspan close to 15 feet.
Whoever posted these episodes put up quite a few additional ones. There's Monster Quest episodes on large killer fish, giant squid and of course the ubiquitous Bigfoot. I was surprised at the care and attention taken to be scientific in these shows. I guess I figured it would be more for entertainment, but the producers obviously are serious about looking for answers.