How about starting the week off with a mystery photograph?
Patrick Huyghe of The Anomalist recently received an intriguing picture. But Huyghe was traveling, and so he passed it along to me, for further investigation.
I did and find it worth posting here for reader feedback and opinions.
First, let me give a little background.
The individual who took the following iPhone image is a prominent company president. While I have his name on file, he shall remain nameless as he feels no need to have his very public life invaded with unwanted attention and inquiries.
His initial message, with the photo, detailed that he had seen this “over an apartment complex just outside Pittsburgh PA during a really weird storm.”
He continued: “I promise you this is an authentic untouched photo. If you look at the center slightly right and just below the cloud anomaly you can spot the thunderbird. It was a really weird cloud. Super dark but all clear to the right of the cloud and to the left. But the cloud was really dark and in a straight line as far as I could see in front of me and behind me. Never seen a cloud like it before or since. Never seen a bird that large either.”
As to the exact location for where this photograph was snapped, it is in the community of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. The photo was taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot on Route 88, which can be seen with a Rite-Aid in the foreground, in front of the housing complex.
Narrowing down the date when he took this, the photographer said this image was taken in July 2007, because he remembers it was one month after he got his iPhone in June 2007.
Why did he wait so long?
Apparently not following cryptozoology too much, the man said: “I couldn’t find anyone to send it to, but I didn’t spend that much time trying. Most sites I found had email that you couldn’t attach pictures to.”
Reading a story on The Anomalist, the casual photographer saw there was a contact email that would allow attachments. He decided to share the image, not making any extraordinary claims for it.
“I’m simply putting the photo out there. It was really far away but obviously large. I was photographing the storm and then thought I’d seen something. When I checked the photo, I noticed I captured something. Not sure I believe in thunderbirds but I know what they are supposed to be and it’s a cool picture,” said the businessman.
Here is the photograph:
What is it? What would photographic analyses of the bird-like artifact show? What do you see in the image?
What does this photo and event tell us about Thunderbirds seen in thunderstorms? About the folklore associated with the storms? About what people feel? About what they think they see in them?
For more on encounters with large mystery birds, especially in America, including a thorough discussion of the frequent reports of Pennsylvania Thunderbirds, see:
Mark A. Hall’s 2004 book, Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, pictured above, has been joined by a hardbound edition in 2009.