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Monday, November 26, 2007

Thunderbirds

One of the better episodes of MonsterQuest last night dealt with Thunderbirds. The episode was entitled "Birdzilla," which was pretty cool.

Various traditions are attached to Thunderbirds, but the general consensus is that they were gigantic, predatory birds with massive wingspans that often preceded great thunderstorms. The other, generally agreed-upon, trait is that they sometimes kidnapped small children. Some accounts even have them terrorizing grown men, but these are far more rare.

Like so many of these cryptozoological oddities, accounts of Thunderbirds began in ancient times -- well, ancient to us, anyway. In fact, there's no way to know exactly how far back such stories go because the white man only started hearing them from Native Americans during exploration of the New World, so there is no recording of accounts prior to then. At the very least, we know that reports of giant birds attacking men and small children go back to at least the 16th-17th Centuries.

There was a resurgence of Thunderbird sightings in the mid to late -1970s, with at least one famous attack on a small boy taking place in a Mid-Western state. Further, not only does photographic evidence of some of these creatures exist, actual motion picture evidence of at least two of them was taken in 1977!

The interesting thing about this particular episode of MonsterQuest was that, while no real conclusions were made (see previous entry), even the pedants were stumped! They couldn't find two experts who agreed on anything when it came to what sort of bird could have attacked a 10-year old boy, nor what species of bird(s) were shown on that piece of film.

Now, I'm a weird sort: When any, relatively intelligent or observant, person tells me he saw something out of the ordinary, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. I'm not saying that I automatically accept that he saw something Unexplained; I'm saying that, if he says it's so, then the next step is to start researching the subject -- not dismiss it out-of-hand. Further, I tend to give eyewitnesses who have practical experience with the wildlife in their area more credence than some nerd who spends all day in a cloistered room looking through a microscope.

When a Cherokee Indian who has lived in the same area his entire life and knows its legends, flora, fauna, and landscape tells me he knows what a Turkey Vulture is, and what he saw was not a Turkey Vulture, I take that into consideration. It certainly carries more weight for me than when some Ornithologist clear across the country takes a brief look at a few seconds of film and "debunks" it.

But I digress.

There have also been reports of great birds since the 1970s, and there are great swaths of wilderness in North America, and throughout the world that have never been fully explored, and probably never will be. I heard one guy talking about how these birds would fly, and so they would have to be seen -- well, they have been!

See, the problem isn't that these giant birds are making themselves scarce; the problem is that the Poindexters who receive millions of dollars a year to study Bald Eagles spend all their time looking at mites under microscopes and discussing the migration of field mice, so they've fooled themselves into thinking that absolutely nothing outside their little bubble could possibly exist without them already knowing it. And this is true of these "professionals" when it comes to basically all cryptozoological pursuits. They also discredit laymen, and researchers who do all the work, in order to lay claim to these discoveries.

But I love Thunderbirds and I have been trying to get a post or two out about them out for a while now. If I get a chance today, I'll try to bring you some accounts of Thunderbirds from some of the sources I have (see sidebar).

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