Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thunderbird or Big Bird?

In the summer of 2008 I was on a short bicycle tour in Missouri with a couple of friends. We were riding the Katy Trail, a railroad bed converted to a bike path with state park status. We rode along the Katy for 2 days and 2 nights, (on the 3rd day we caught the train in Hermann, MO).   

On day 1, we rode from Clinton, MO to just beyond Rocheport, MO.  (You can look up the route on Google maps by putting in Clinton, MO to Hermann, MO and hitting the bike route option.) By the time we got to Boonville on the Missouri River the sun was setting. We crossed the river at Boonville and pressed on to Rocheport where we had camping reservations.

We were on the north side of the Missouri R., riding along the path. I was riding faster than my friends because I was on my old Univega touring bike and I didn’t have the gear ratios of the other guys. I had to find a gear and just go with it, so eventually I got about a ½ mile or so a head of my buddies.

It was getting to be dusk, light fading, and I saw a large bird perched on a telephone pole about 100 yards ahead. I kept looking at the bird because I think eagles and raptors are cool. Its a rare treat to see an eagle , I hadn't seen one since leaving the Navajo Indian Reservation in 2000, plus this bird appeared  to be very large; bigger than the average golden eagle. I would estimate the bird was at least 4 ft tall, maybe even 5 ft. As I pedaled I kept looking at it because it looked massive from where I was.  I got about 50 yards from it and it took off flying toward the bluffs to the north. The wings were enormous! I’d estimate a wing span of greater than 10 feet. It was a really big bird! I watched it fly north towards the bluffs, where it disappeared into the shadows.  I slowed down and let my friends catch up and told them about the huge eagle I had just seen.

Anyway, I kind of forgot about this encounter until last year. Here on the History Channel, they have a show called “Monster Quest” and there is an episode about the Thunderbird. It seems most recent “sightings” have been in the Ohio valley, central Illinois, and Missouri areas. That surprised me.

The skeptic/science guy in me says it was just a normal eagle and I overestimated its stature. The fantasy part of me wants to believe. 

Once I encountered what I truly believe was a skinwalker (a Navajo shape-shifter) between Crownpoint and Borrego Pass.  I hadn’t thought much about the bird, but to me, it seemed abnormally large for a golden eagle.


Gunnar Berg said...

An eagle, which is really cool if you can remember back a generation, when it was just as likely to be thunderbird. It's been my observation that birds shrink or grow depending on the environment where they're observed. A golden eagle is obviously bigger than a bald eagle, until you look in the Peterson or see them in a zoo. And then the bald eagle grows larger than the golden. Yeah, it was probably a thunderbird or maybe you were sober.

Mimbres Man said...

The light was dimming, had 80+ miles behind us. Who knows? It was a really big bird whatever kind it was.

Silk Hope said...


Anonymous said...

I like to think it was a Thunderbird. The world is a more interesting place with a little mystery in it.

I'd love to hear your skinwalker story. Those always send shivers down my spine.