Big Bird


May 7, 2003, 11:56 AM
Yesterday, while setting in traffic and looking at the backside of a huge storm cloud bank, I spotted, what had to, a HUGE bird.

At first I thought it was a small plain but then it flapped its wings! It would be impossible for me to guess at the size because it was way way up in the air. The fact that I could see it at all tells me it was BIG.

This was in SE KY, what do you think it was Condor, Buzzard or optical elusion?

This brings up the question, if you encountered some, non-human, freak of nature…. Would you shoot it?

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Ian Sean
May 7, 2003, 12:03 PM
Might have been the Mothman. I hear mothman taste like chicken, but you got to cook them like spotted owl.

May 7, 2003, 12:05 PM
Dang! And I thought this was going to be a post on the best choice of weapon to take out that oversized yellow buzzard from Sesame Street.

May 7, 2003, 12:39 PM
Maybe you should do a Google search on "South American Thunderbird Legend"
;) :neener:

May 7, 2003, 12:46 PM
Yep, its the thunderbird. To correct nondescript, the Thunderbird was well known to the NORTH American indians. These birds were too large to take off unaided from level ground. They required a fair amount of wind to get them aloft. The Thunderbirds therefore followed the circular storm patterns across North America to get the lift they needed for take-off. The Indians would see the birds immediately prior to a thunderstorm, hence the the name 'Thunderbird". Bison calves of the plains states were their primary prey. The near extinction of the American bison led to the demise of the thunderbird.

A few may still exist. I suspect that's what you saw.

May 7, 2003, 12:47 PM
It would depend if it threatened me, if it goes the opposite direction from me, I would let it go, if it comes at me, it may not be using oxygen any longer.

May 7, 2003, 12:51 PM
I hope you're not the same Horsesense that infested the Mak board over at

If so, tell us about the Mak your dog kept puking on, the one you welded a penny onto as a front sight.

May 7, 2003, 01:29 PM
Condors have a 10 foot wing span

small planes like the piper cub, have a 35 foot wing span

Height & distance is tricky to estimate...

May 7, 2003, 01:38 PM
Hmmm...was a Snuffleupagus nearby?

Oh wait, only I can see the Snuffleupagus.


2nd Amendment
May 7, 2003, 02:30 PM
Hmmm, that would fit with something I saw as a kid, maybe 10 years old. The folks had just built their new house out in the boonies and I walked out the back door one morning to find a huge bird devouring one of my dads big fat lop rabbits. I mean, the rabbit was huge and it looked like a typical small wild rabbit under this bird. The bird itself was as tall as I was at the time, I guess 4'6" or so.

The thing took off after a short run, instead of a simple leap into the air. Everyone dismissed it, of course. Big hawk, maybe an eagle. Possibly a buzzard. Well, I've seen a lot of those around here since then and if so it was one BIG damned buzzard. Never heard the story of the Thunderbird before but it makes a lot of sense in light of what I saw almost 30 years ago.

And no, before anyone asks, I've never seen ET or UFO's...though I admit I do look at the night sky in hope. :D

Steve Smith
May 7, 2003, 02:35 PM

May 7, 2003, 02:38 PM
I hope you're not the same Horsesense that infested the Mak board over at

I hope it is ... I hope both he and his cousin show up.

Would be quite entertaining :)

/me runs to the store to pick up some oranges and Alka-Seltzer :neener:

May 7, 2003, 02:41 PM
"This brings up the question, if you encountered some, non-human, freak of nature…. Would you shoot it?"

My ex-wife still stalks the earth. I have failed my fellow man.

May 7, 2003, 02:53 PM
Thunderbird for sure. They are very famous in those areas.

May 7, 2003, 04:52 PM

It was big and it was high. I have cattle and a 3-year-old daughter, so I would have to say that I would shoot on sight IF it were on the farm.

“I hope you're not the same Horsesense that infested the Mak board over at”


“Hmmm...was a Snuffleupagus nearby?
Oh wait, only I can see the Snuffleupagus.”

Snuffleupagus taste like chicken?

“And no, before anyone asks, I've never seen ET or UFO's”


May 7, 2003, 11:26 PM
Ok, I did a search on google for "South American Thunderbird Legend" and have to say it could be.

I'm not the kind of guy that sees Big Foot and stuff like that BUT this was a BIG BIRD!

I think I heard on, Paul Harvey, that there was a problem out west with pollution coming from South American farmers burning cropland this time of year, so it's not unconceivable that one could ride the prevailing winds to the western US, and then catch the updrafts from the big storm system that moved from west to east Sunday and Monday.

Then again, it's very hard to judge the size of something when you have no point of reference. It was so high that if I had held my thumb up it would have blocked it from view. It was soaring along the backside of the wall of clouds about mid way up the thickens of the cloud wall, and blue sky behind it. I guess I could see if the local weather report told how high the clouds were but I couldn't do the math to estimate the size.

Just did a search for yesterdays weather, it was just before noon on the sixth, but I can't find anything that tells how high the clouds were.

Steve Smith
May 7, 2003, 11:32 PM

May 7, 2003, 11:40 PM
Andean (as in from the Andes mountains in S. America) Condors have been known to grow as big as 8 meter (that's 21 feet) wingspans, but what one of those would have been doing in your area is a real question as they *do* meet the criterion of the thunderbird to the extent that they generally need some kind of draft or breeze to get going.

None of my current or previous experiences account for this info - a friend who was on a mission trip in S. A. sent me a picture of a LARGE bird they saw and I asked a couple of academic types if they would ask around about it ...the folks in one college biology department took it as a challenge and finally came up with a positive ID. For all y'all who didn't know (and I didn't before that) a condor is just a big BUZZARD. Yep, that's right, Simon and Garfunkle wrote a song about a place that's known for it's buzzards ('El Condor Passe'). Isn't trivia fun? :D

Don Gwinn
May 8, 2003, 12:33 AM
Couldn't tell you. That's pretty far away for the Piasa Bird. :D

Painting of the Piasa Bird by Herbert D. Forcade
Alton, Ill. (circa 1923)
In the Summer of 1673 the Marquette-Jolliet expedition, traveling down the Mississippi, beheld a large petroglyph on the bluffs overlooking the river near the site of present day Alton, Illinois. The local residents attributed several interesting legends to the giant bird-beast. Later observers saw two or more of the paintings on the bluff.

By 1838 the native American locals, having obtained firearms, adopted the custom of shooting at the terrible beasts. The gunfire, and local quarrying, had destroyed the glyphs by the time of the Civil War.

In the 1920's, the city of Alton decided to restore the painting, as a local symbol. Herbert D. Forcade did the work, with the help of his brother Orland G. Forcade. The small painting above was made by H.D. Forcade, and then placed under a grid to be replicated on the bluffs in large scale.

The restored painting lasted until 1950 when the bluffs were cut back to widen the McAdams highway along the river. Later reproductions of the Piasa bird did not fare as well.

May 8, 2003, 10:03 AM
And you thought dragons were extinct ... ?

(what will "Homeland Security" do with this one?)

May 8, 2003, 10:11 AM

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