Was This A Close Encounter With A Thunderbird?
Written By: Stan Gordon
In many of those cases, it was difficult to estimate the actual size and wingspan of the creatures observed. Historically, there have been many reports of these giant birds from the Black Forest region of Pennsylvania. Other sightings have reportedly occurred in other sections of the Commonwealth, as well as other parts of the United States. The term "Thunderbird" has commonly been associated with these big bird reports.
Many of the strange reports that come to my attention are from the Keystone State, but I also receive odd encounters that have occurred in nearby states as well. Recently I interviewed a witness from West Virginia, who reported a very close encounter with a possible Thunderbird. The incident took place in late September, or early October, 2007. The incident occurred on a rural two lane roadway outside of the town of Clendenin, in Kanawha County, West Virginia. It was about 8 A.M. as the man was driving down the road when he had to suddenly hit hard on his brakes. In the middle of the road, only a few yards ahead of him, was a giant bird feeding on a possum or some other road kill.
The witness said that he was startled by the size of the huge flying creature. The bird stood at least four feet tall. Its head was over the roof line of his car. The head seemed dominant, but not over proportioned to its body. The neck seemed long, and somewhat crooked. The bird was covered with very dark brown or black feathers. The head was feather less, and was separated from the body by a very dominant yellowish orange collar of plumage. The beak was very long and large, and the witness believes that it was black in color. The eyes were very dark. The witness could not remember many details about the feet, but did recall that the legs were full feathered to its feather less feet. The chest area was very distinct and well formed.
The most outstanding feature however was the massive wingspan of the bird. After I interviewed the witness the first time, he returned to the location of the encounter and measured the distance across the road from edge to edge. What amazed the observer was that the wingspan was easily as wide as the two lane road. When he measured the distance it was 21 feet! The witness stated,"the wings were as I can remember, as arms of a human are attached. It had shoulders. It had a very muscular upper torso and the wings were as if they were its arms."
The observer commented,"We both startled each other it seems, for it looked as shocked as I was." When it became startled, it pulled its head back to gaze at the driver. "In seeing me, it turned from me and in an awkward way, ran from my vehicle so as to fly away. It was more like a jumping, hopping run which took probably a distance of five yards before it’s absolutely huge wingspan lifted it into flight. Its wingspan easily was as wide as the two lane road which we were on." The wing tips stirred dust and gravel on both sides as it ran to become airborne.
I asked him about the wing beat and he commented,"the wing beat as you put it seemed distinct, not panicky or cumbersome but distinct in its fluid motion. The only thing cumbersome was the gait in which it seemingly ran jumping from one foot to the other in a hopping manner while flapping to gain speed to take off. As the bird did gain flight and in flapping away, it appeared the wings were massive feathered arms. Shoulders were evident, however not huge athletic sized shoulders."
Once the bird cleared the tree tops, it was lost from sight.The entire experience lasted about 10-15 seconds. The witness heard no sound as the bird rose off the ground. The driver did have his radio playing in the car at that time. The man told me that that he was in a slight state of shock as he watched the bird fly off. The witness never thought of grabbing his cell phone camera until after the bird had flown off. He has now obtained a video camera to carry with him just in case he is lucky enough to see it again. The witness has been a hunter for many years, and has never seen anything like this before.
After the sighting, he began to search out information about large birds in an attempt to identify what he saw. He said the closest thing that he could find, was a drawing of a terratorn, an extinct bird.
The witness would be interested in knowing if anyone else has had a recent sighting of such a creature. If you have seen what you think was a thunderbird in Pennsylvania, or nearby states, please contact me.