Why aren't supernatural bird stories as popular as other monster tales?

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Answered by: Erica, An Expert in the Weird Creatures and Monsters Category
When many people think of cryptids--animals which many people report sightings of, but haven't yet been confirmed to exist--usually they imagine them to have claws, hair, and teeth. Ape-men like the Sasquatch, livestock-killers like the Chupacabra, and swimmers like the Loch Ness monster all get pride of place. Less often, people look to the air in order to get their supernatural animal fix. In doing so, they neglect amazing stories about monster birds.

Some supernatural bird stories are a little silly, like the tall tale of the Fatu-liva. The Fatu-liva was said to lay square eggs, which could then be hard-boiled, marked with spots, and used for dice. An Australian bird with similarly shaped eggs was known as the “Oo-er”, the name supposedly coming from the sound it would make with it laid another of its awkwardly shaped eggs.

In other stories, the flying beast is more like an alien. West Virginia's Mothman, last sighted in the 60s, was a reportedly man-sized creature with enormous wings and glowing red eyes. Despite the creepy eye color, witnesses described it as looking less like a bat, and more like an angel. Mothman swooped to follow people’s cars at night, one person reporting that it could fly as fast as a hundred miles an hour. Other people reported a strange creature with wings and glowing eyes looking into their houses. Today, some try to explain it away as sightings of an owl, or other large bird that went astray during a migration.

Most impressive of all, however, is the Thunderbird. A figure in some Native American stories, the Thunderbird has been described as a gigantic black bird with a fifteen to twenty foot wingspan. Its wings either made thunderous noises as it beat them, or it had the power to actually stir up rainstorms. Unlike Mothman, Thunderbirds have been sighted as recently as 2007. During that year, a San Antonio man working his paper route told a local newspaper he had been terrified when a huge black bird swooped over his car. He described the bird as being bigger than himself, and was reluctant to leave his car until it had flown away. While some scoff at his report, others think that the sightings may not be of a giant bird but of an even stranger animal, such as a pterodactyl.

This doesn’t even touch on mythical birds that aren’t really considered cryptids, but enthrall fantasy lovers even today. The phoenix, a bird that burned itself up at the end of its life to be reborn as an egg, has been a symbol of rebirth for hundreds of years. It has appeared in art ranging from Russian opera to the Harry Potter books. The Roc, a Middle Eastern bird so huge it dined on elephants the same way sparrows eat worms, was featured in the original tales of Sinbad the Sailor.

Whether you're a cryptid hunter or simply a lover of good monster stories, you shouldn't neglect supernatural bird stories. The creatures in the monster aviary range from the sublime, to the silly, to the terrifying. And, especially in the case of birds like the Thunderbird, if you're ever in New Mexico it's probably best to know that you should be warily scanning the skies.

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