While this bird, sighted in the Rio Grande Valley in the 1970s, left no evidence behind other than sightings and one attack over a brief time period, there are theories.
This Big Bird isn’t the adorable one who lives on Sesame Street with his teddy bear Radar, but was named after him in jest. It was the subject of jokes and concern.
Most witnesses described this unknown mysterious animal, UMA, as about five feet tall, featherless and having a long beak, bat-like wings and a simian face.
Giant Bird Sightings
All reports of Giant Bird sightings came from the Rio Grande Valley in 1976.
January 1: Tracey Lawson and Cousin Jackie Davies were playing outside when they saw the creature. It was over five feet tall, had dark red eyes, bald head, gorilla-like face and a long beak. The avian emitted a shrill screech. The next day, their fathers saw three-toed tracks, pressed about an inch into the ground. The family dog stayed inside of its doghouse, leaving only to go into the house for dinner, then had to be forced back outside.
January 7: Policeman Arturo Padilla saw something in the headlights of his cruiser; it was a huge bird. Minutes later, fellow officer, Homer Galvan, sighted a large black silhouette gliding through the air. Alverico Guajardo spotted the creature and described it as looking like a bat.
January 14: Armando Grimaldo heard a sound like a bat’s wings flapping. Suddenly, large talons grabbed him and tore his shirt. It was a bird-like creature with red eyes, a monkey-like face and no beak.
About this time, several school teachers witnessed the strange bird, with a wingspan of at least 12 feet across. One of the teachers performed some research and discovered a picture that looked like what they saw. The image that the teacher found depicted a pterosaur.
Giant Bird Causes Jokes and Concern
Initially, Big Bird was the target of jokes, including those said by Johnny Carson on his national television show.
As the sightings continued, a radio station offered a reward for the creature’s capture. A television station broadcast a picture of an alleged bird track that measured about twelve inches long.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department feared hunters might mistake a protected, large, rare bird, like the whooping crane, for this strange, mysterious bird. Subsequently, they made the public aware that all birds were protected by state and/or federal law.
Some Giant Bird sightings were revealed as hoaxes or misunderstandings. A jabiru, large stork native to Latin America, with a wingspan of up to 9 feet wide, was captured. It’s believed it got lost during migratory flight.
A video of a large blue heron, native to Texas, was broadcast as that of Big Bird. The furor faded when sightings ceased. But some remembered the Big Bird sightings and they continued to wonder about the creature.
Giant Bird Theories
Mothman: Rejected mainly because the descriptions are too different and this creature’s sightings were limited to West Virginia.
Thunderbird: Open to speculation because these birds, most often sighted from Pennsylvania to the northern Midwest, have been said to resemble teratorns and pterodactyls.
Pterosaur: This is the primary theory. They were the first flying reptiles and had vertebrae. Their wings were bat-like and they had no feathers. It’s believed they became extinct sixty-five million years ago. Fossil remains of the largest known flying pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus, were found in Big Bend National Park, Texas, in 1972, four years before the first sightings of Big Bird.
It may never be known what this strange flying creature was because it seemed to have completely disappeared. It left no evidence of its existence and there have been no new sightings since the 1970s.
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my mother was outside one day and thought she saw a small plane flying overhead. but it made no sound. then it flapped its wings. she didn’t say anything until later that evening at v.f.w. bingo she was with the wife of the chief of police and their friends. he came in shook up. he said he had seen something weird and was afraid to guess what it was. my mother spoke up and asked if it was a “big bird”. yes! boy was he relieved. he wasn’t the only one who had seen it.
I came looking for this bird, and found this article, after sighting a huge bird in 2020 at dusk, flying over the trees of my property. I was surprised at seeing such a huge bird. I wondered: What cand of bird is that?
Interestingly enough, the Rio Grande region on the south of the border has long had legends and sightings of a creature that seems very similar to what has been seen in Texas. Locals of northern Mexico and the Rio Grande of Texas have long spoken of a giant bird creature which they call
The one I saw back in the ,70’s looked like s pteradactyl. Was a grey-brown color
My father and i were fishing out large catfish at the valley acers lake. The big bird. Which looked like a teradactal, was flying over us above our boat at about 2000 feet. I shot at it with a 22 rifle. Just to wing it. Not kill it. I could hear when the bullet hit the wing. I believe it lived on the lake. I was about 14 years old. I knew how to estimate distance and very good with the rifle. Anyway, we saw it several times. 1967 or 1968. No body would believe me. I’m sure its bones are still somewhere on the lake after all these years, if it died there. Believe it or Not.
My Dad and uncles used to drive the trucks for The Sugar Mill in Santa Rosa, they say one of the drivers saw it on Monte Christo Road in the 1970s