A belief once widespread among North American Indian tribes was that giant supernatural flying creatures, known as Thunderbirds, caused lightning and thunder. They even have these birds depicted on totem poles. But there might be a link to these mysterious flying birds and sightings in recent times of these creatures.
There have been sightings of these Thunderbirds especially in the state I reside in, Pennsylvania. People living in the heavily forested Allegheny Plateau of North-Central Pennsylvania have long claimed to have seen these huge birds. "Thunderbirds are not a thing of the past", Pennsylvania writer Robert Lyman declared in 1973. "They are with us today, but few will believe it except those who seen them.Their present home is in the southern edge of the Black Forest, north of the Susquehanna River, between Pine Creek at the east and Kettle Creek at the west. All reports for the past 20 years have come from that area".
I have personally, been to this area of Pennsylvania. Pine Creek runs through Pine Creek Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania near Wellsboro, Pa, in Tioga county. The area is heavily forested, and has high cliffs. It is a good place for a huge bird to go undetected.
Thunderbirds have not just been seen in Pennsylvania. But also in other parts of the country too. People who have seen them give about the same description, large dark-colored, gliding birds with wingspan over fifteen feet wide. One incident involving a Thunderbird gives the best description of these birds. It was called the "Lawndale Incident". This incident produced widespread publicity. It took place on July 25, 1977 in Lawndale, Illinois. The incident involved a young ten year old boy named Marlon Lowe. He was seized by the talons of a huge bird but his mother, Ruth Lowe was able to free him from the bird's talons. She described the bird as a huge, coal black bird with a long white-ringed neck, a long curled beak, and a wingspan of over 10 feet or more. But what could this bird be?
Most of the incidents described this bird as being condor-like. In the United States, living in California is the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), it is smaller that the Andean Condor of South America. It has a wingspan of nine foot and is sooty black in color. But it lacks the white rings around its neck. But the Andean Condor (Vulturgryphus) on the other hand has a white collar of feathers around its neck, and has a wingspan of 10 feet or more. It is glossy black with a bald head and white coverts. But one thing about these two condors, is that their feet are too weak to carry prey even for moderate distances.
Some experts believe the Thunderbird legends may have a basis in fact. In the fossil record there has been discovery of many birds of prey larger than any that are known today. The most likely zoological candidates for Thunderbirds may be the supposedly recent extinct Teratorns.
Alan Feduccia in "The Age of Birds" (1986), writes : "Perhaps the most remarkable of the Ice Age vulturine birds found in the New World were the Teratorns. The Teratornis merriami, had a wingspan of eleven to twelve feet. But the real giant was a Argentine fossil, Argentavis magnificens. It was nearly twice the size of Teratornis merriami, which stood five feet tall and had a wingspan of about twenty-four feet. It was the largest flying bird known to science.
The bones of Teratorns have turned up in deposits from California to Florida. They have also found fossils of teratorns in the northern parts of Mexico. In the La Brea tar pits in California, they have found bones of Teratornis merriami. The fossils had a long narrow hooked beaks, just like the bird describe in the "Lawndale Incident". But with all fossil remains, we really do not know what the Teratorn's body covering looked like.
From a creationist's point of view, I believe these birds could still be alive today. God created all birds on day five of Creation week. There has been to many eyewitness accounts to dismiss the fact that the Thunderbirds exist. You may know somebody who has seen a Thunderbird (not the car, but the bird). Perhaps you seen one yourself?
For more information on Thunderbirds, Teratorns, and Condors go to http://www.wikipedia.org .