Editors and Thunderbirds

Editors: Expand Your Thunderbird Awareness

An Illinois newspaper’s answer columnist Ms. Brenda Story attempts to tackle a cryptozoological question in her "Hotline" column on November 28th, with the standard terrible results.

Peoria, Illinois Journal-Star’s Ms. Story was asked by a reader if she remembers the "story circulating around the Peoria area about a ‘giant bird’ that was spotted by several people around the area" in the 1970s.

"My co-workers all think that I have lost my mind as they don’t recall anything like that," complained the reader.

It is amazing how short memories can be.

Ms. Story notes she "checked with local historian Bill Adams, who has written three books about Peoria’s past. Adams said over the years there have been lots of stories circulating about such things. ‘I really can’t come up with a date,’ Adams said, ‘but there was a time this area was a breeding site for eagles. Eagles have a very large wing span,’ he added. ‘I think that’s how a lot of stories got their start.’"

I congratulate Ms. Story for taking on the question, but she just looked in the wrong direction to discover an answer. Editors really need to become more aware of cryptozoology, and this inquiring reader was no doubt talking about the April 1977 flap of "big bird" encounters that centered on Lawndale, Illinois, but also included sightings near Peoria-Pekin, in such towns as Tremont, Delvan, and Minier. The local papers from Decatur, Bloomington, and Peoria covered the near abduction of Marlon Lowe from near his home along the Kickapoo Creek, in Logan County, Illinois. The story made national news.

The April 1977 birds, just like the other peak flap years such as 1948, involved not "eagles" but Thunderbirds, giant avian cryptids, different in description, size, and we must assume from the reports, behavioral personality, than mere eagles.

Once again, I highly recommend Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds by Mark A. Hall for editorial newsrooms around the country.