Paul Bell was a keen fisherman who I met back in early 2001 and who had a remarkable story to relate of truly monstrous proportions. And when I say “remarkable,” I’m not exaggerating. His summer 1976 encounter, on a pleasant and picturesque stretch of English canal, involved not just one breed of bizarre beast but two.
The further I dug into the story, however, the more and more convinced I became that the diabolical monsters were actually one and the same - albeit in an acutely strange fashion. If that all sounds very odd, well, it is! Bear with me, however, and all will soon become clear.
Bell told me how, in July and August of 1976, he spent several Saturdays sat on the banks of England’s Shropshire Union Canal with his rods, reels, bait, cans of beer, and favorite beef and onion sandwiches, soaking in the intense heat of what was without doubt an absolutely scalding hot couple of months.
I seriously doubt that anyone who grew up in England, and who is old enough to remember the summer of 1976, will ever quite forget those truly extraordinary temperatures that briefly, and memorably, plunged the entire nation into complete and utter scalding chaos. But it was far stranger things than the occasional extreme nature of the British weather that Paul Bell had fixed on his mind.
He told me how, on one particular Saturday afternoon, he was sat near the water’s edge on a small wooden stool that he always carried with him, when he was “literally frozen solid” by the sight of “what at first I thought was a big log floating down the cut, about sixty or seventy feet away.” According to Bell, however, it was no log; it was something else entirely. As it got closer, Bell was both astonished and horrified to see a large “dark brown and black colored” eel or snake-like creature – possibly ten feet in length or a little bit more – moving slowly in the water, with its head – that “looked like a black sheep” - flicking rapidly from side to side. Although he had an old Polaroid camera with him, said Bell, he never even thought to take a photograph. Instead, he merely stared in both awe and shock as the animal cruised past him, before finally vanishing out of sight.
I had heard similar accounts to Bell’s on several previous occasions – namely, of giant eels roaming British waterways, and particularly those of the West Midlands. In that sense, Bell’s story was not that unusual to me at all, even though it certainly involved what was without doubt an unknown animal of truly impressive proportions.
But what elevated matters to a far stranger level was the fact that Bell claimed, in quite matter of fact fashion, I have to confess, that the following Saturday he was fishing in practically the same spot when “I got the feeling I was being watched” and saw something equally monstrous – yet manifestly different in nature and appearance. It was nothing less than a large, hairy, ape-like creature!
Peering across the width of the canal, Paul was both horrified and petrified to see a dark, hairy face staring intently at him out of the thick, green bushes. The head of the animal was unmistakably human-like “but crossed with a monkey” said Bell, who added that “as soon as it saw me looking at it, up it went and ran right into the trees and I lost it.” He further explained: “That was it; a second or two was all at the most. But as it got up and ran I knew it was a big monkey. There’s nothing else it could have been. But what flummoxed me more than seeing it though, was what was it doing there?”
It has to be said that most people go through their entire lives never, ever encountering an animal of the unknown variety even once. But here was a man claiming to have seen no less than two completely different monsters, but in pretty much the same location and time-frame. Of course, the skeptic might state that Paul Bell was nothing more than a hoaxer or a fantasist. There is, however, a far more intriguing possibility. It’s a highly disturbing possibility, too.
Within the centuries-old folklore, mythology and culture of the people of Scotland, tales are told of an infernal beast known as the Kelpie, which translates as water-horse. It’s a violent monster that spends most of its time lurking in pools, ponds, lakes and rivers, waiting to pounce on unwary walkers that pass by. It’s also a monster of distinctly paranormal proportions, one which thrives on killing the living and devouring their souls. Like the classic werewolf, the Kelpie is a shape-shifter.
Boy on White Horse by Theodor Kittelsen
Rather notably, there are three particular forms into which the Kelpie most often mutates. One is that of a horse, hence the term of water-horse. The creature positions itself by the edge of the water, doing its absolute utmost to invite those that encounter the “horse” to mount it. That, however, is always the deadly mistake of the traveler, as invariably the Kelpie then reacts in violent fashion and charges head-long into the depths of the waters, thus drowning the already-doomed rider in the process.
There are two other forms into which the Kelpie can shape-shift: one is a creature of the water (in some cases, a serpent-like monster and, in others, a mermaid-style entity) and the other is a large hair-covered, humanoid beast. This, of course, brings us right back to the matter of Paul Bell and his summer 1976 encounter. It must be said that, as incredible as it sounds, Bell’s story is highly suggestive of a relatively modern day encounter with an ancient Kelpie. After all, on both occasions Bell was situated close to the water – and given the nature of the experiences, arguably perilously close. And, at that very same water’s edge, and on the same stretch of canal, he encountered two Kelpie-style archetypes: a water-beast and a hairy, ape-like creature.
Paul Bell was, I strongly suspect, very lucky not to have been dragged to his death in the darkened depths of that accursed waterway. And with that thought in mind, I urge you to tread very carefully should you ever find yourself in the vicinity of England’s Shropshire Union Canal. The Kelpie may be coming for you too…
The revelation of a new and powerful philosophical system is the rare treasure to be discovered in the new book, Dragonflame: Tap Into Your Reservoir of Power Using Talismans, Manifestation, and Visualization. By Lawren Leo, a noted expert on esoteric philosophy and the practice of magickal arts, the book develops a unique formula for achieving spiritual transformation and manifesting one’s desires.
Anyone interested in the Holy Grail, the Philosopher’s Stone, The Secret and the law of attraction (and who isn’t?) will be drawn to Dragonflame for the insightful meditations and visualizations, the exercises and the rituals. In an understandable and reader-friendly way, detailed instructions are tailored to beginners and to advanced practitioners of the magickal arts, so that both achieve metaphysical transformation. The fascinating exercises are motivational, written with the intent of empowerment.
Based on a new and entirely unique formula, Dragonflame teaches readers to:
* Create talismans with which to control personal power
* Find and manifest deepest dreams and desires
* Discover new paths for magickal and spiritual development
* Make magick work in a karmically correct fashion
Two deeply guarded occult secrets are revealed in Dragonflame: The key to controlling individual destiny and the key to the Philosopher’s Stone! Also in this book, and only here, are potent, original spells and chants, and tarot and alchemical explanations. By creating talismans for concentration and empowerment, and with visualizations to work through trauma, and positive affirmations, Dragonflame is a “crossover” book into the self-help and philosophy genres.
Leo said, “My mission, to help others with divination, is constantly evolving through my work in self-realization and guidance. Intended to heal, illuminate, and affirm, my readings embody the science of divination derived from the tarot, playing cards,astrology, and my spiritual gift, psychic ability. I am a firm believer that everything we need and desire to know already exists in our inner and outer universe; we simply need to listen.”
About the Author:
Lawren Leo attended Lynn University and Pepperdine University, and since has traveled throughout the United States, Great Britain, Western Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, studying esoteric philosophy, magickal arts and alternative religion, and giving readings.
Leo has practiced Wicca and High Magick and has studied Qabalah for nearly three decades, tracing his first psychic experience back to the age of five. His remarkable gifts of spirit communication, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience have garnered international attention.
Presently, he owns a metaphysical boutique called New Moon Books, Crystals & Candles, Inc., in Pompano Beach, Florida, where he also resides. Leo is also contributing author and editor at the electronic magazine, The Familiar. Photo Courtesy of Tiffany Photography
Our Spring 14 list features 11 New Releases this Season. Find out more by visiting the individual book links below. Ancient Mysteries
The Lost Secrets of The Gods:The Latest Evidence and Revelations on Ancient
Astronauts, Precursor Cultures, and Secret Societies Edited by Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley
July 14 Release
Lost Secrets of the Gods delves into these ancient
mysteries and many more in articles by some of the world’s most intrepid and
knowledgeable researchers. The old paradigms of history are being radically
transformed as we discover more evidence of little-known cultures and what they
Dragonflame: Tap Into Your Reservoir of Power Using Talismans,
Manifestations, and Visualizations
by Lawren Leo
March 14 Release
Dragonflame is a new and powerful philosophical
system that sets forth a magical equation for achieving spiritual transformation
and manifesting one’s desires.
insightful meditations and visualizations to magical exercises and rituals,
this book offers spiritual guidance, with beginners’ instructions and advanced
practices that will help both novices and adepts achieve transformation in an
understandable and reader-friendly format.
July 14 Release In Optimum Health the
Paleo Way, Paleo nutritionist Claire Yates explains clearly why bad health
is on the increase and how the Paleo lifestyle (not ‘diet’) can help. Claire
sets out the key aspects of the Paleo lifestyle (including the importance of
food as medicine, and the truth about fats, carbs, protein and fiber). She then
takes you through the 28-day reset meal plan before including over 100
delicious Paleo recipes that will get you feeling great while eating some of
the tastiest food of your life!
If you suffer from acid reflux,
heartburn and other symptoms of GERD you are hardly alone. Over 60 million Americans experience symptoms
of acid reflux at least once per month and at least 25 million Americans suffer
on a daily basis. For many people acid
reflux is far from a minor inconvenience. Symptoms can make you feel miserable and disrupt your sleep, work and
life in general.
Your Nutrition Solutionto Acid
Reflux provides you with another treatment option that will last a
lifetime.This book will both guide you
and provide you with the tools you need to examine your food and beverage
intake and truly detect what is causing your symptoms.
by Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD LD August 14 Release Type 2 diabetes is the most
common form of diabetes. In fact almost
26 million American children and adults have diabetes with 90 to 95 percent of
these cases being type 2 diabetes.There
are countless numbers of people that do not know they have diabetes and even
more who have prediabetes, a condition that puts them at higher risk of
developing type 2 diabetes and its complications.
There are many treatment options for those with type 2
diabetes and prediabetes with the most important and effective one being
nutritional intake.The correct diet
plan can be the key to lowering or even eliminating the need for prescription
medications and living a life without the worry of medical complications due to
type 2 diabetes.Your Nutrition
Solution to Type 2 Diabetes provides you with a treatment option you
can live with for a lifetime.
were only three rules when Joshua P. Warren began collecting these stories from
around the world: they had to be true, they had to be short, and they had to
send a shiver down your spine.
Was a Dark and Creepy Night presents a wide variety
of weird and spooky tales about ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, angels, demons, ESP,
interdimensional contact and more. Because
each tale is short, this eerie little tome is perfect for a subway ride, a
plane flight, or a night entertaining guests.
summoning gone awry leads to problems for Penelope, who is driven from her home
by phantom parties, a dancing stove, and a wave of demonic force that tosses
her around like a ragdoll.
for help, she turns to her friend, Robbie, who brings her to David Rountree, a
and David embark on a whirlwind journey of learning, racing against time,
visiting sites of spiritual power, and gaining artifacts and allies in their
quest to exorcise the evil before it can seriously injure someone—or worse.
The Biology of
Beating Stress emphasizesand
gives tips for making the mental shift towards not merely managing your stress
but, really having the breakthrough necessary to use stress to your advantage!
The way we interpret our stress and its affects directly affects our health and
The Power of Angels: Discover How to Connect, Communicate,
and Heal With the Angels by Joanne Brocas April 14 Release A higher power exists to help anyone
who desires spiritual assistance within all areas of his or her life whenever
it is needed. It is the angels who work on behalf of this higher power, helping
to bring you comfort when you are emotionally low, knowledge and insight to
help you progress along your life path, healing you when you are sick, and
inspiring you to achieve your greatest potential.
has heard of Close Encounters of
the Third Kind. But what about close encounters of the fatal kind? The field of UFOs is rife
with unsettling examples of suspicious deaths. Accounts of accidents that might
not have been accidents after all,
abound. Researchers and witnesses have vanished, never to be seen again.
UFOs: Gods Chariots:Spirituality,
Ancient Aliens, and Religious Yearnings in the Age of Extraterrestrials
by Ted Peters
May 14 Release
UFOs: God's Chariots?uncovers and
exposes the clandestine spiritual dimensions within the UFO phenomenon. UFOs
vibrate with transcendence, omniscience, perfection, and redemption.
Ted Peters delves deeply into
government conspiracies, analyzes the newest models of close encounter
interpretation, and reveals the results of
The Peters ETI Religious Crisis
The people of the island [of Madagascar]
report that at a certain season of the year, an extraordinary kind of bird
which they call a Rukh, makes its appearance from the southern region. In form
it is said to resemble the eagle but it is incomparably greater in size; being
so large and strong as to seize an elephant with its talons, and to lift it
into the air, from whence it lets it fall to the ground, in order that when
dead it may prey upon the carcass. Persons who have seen this bird assert that
when the wings are spread they measure sixteen paces in extent, from point to
point; and that the feathers are eight paces in length, and thick in
proportion. —Marco Polo, Travels (III, 36)
Roc carrying off
The sky darkens suddenly,
the shadow of huge wings sweeping the ground. A crack of thunder as the Roc
dives, then it is gone again, an elephant clutched in massive claws. Giant
birds have held sway over our imaginations since perhaps as long as humanity
has existed—perhaps longer. In his book, An Instinct for Dragons, author
David Jones proposes that Dragons are an amalgamation of the three great
predators of our earliest ancestors: the big cats, the serpents, and the
raptors—the birds of prey. He suggests that our earliest primate ancestors were
hunted by these predators and, through what Jung might call the “world mind,”
we have retained these memories even until today.1
If this be true, such memories might account for many of our mythic creatures,
be they Dragon, Gryphon, or giant birds. Even so, the Roc and the Thunderbird
are awe-inspiring figures, symbolically representing storms, wind, thunder, and
Watch out for falling Rocs
The Roc (Persian, Rukh or Rucke) is a bird
of immense size found in Persian and Indian myth. It lived on the island of Madagascar,
and was said to be large enough to carry off elephants to feed its gigantic
chicks. In the “Voyages of Sinbad,” found within the famous Arabian Thousand
Nights and a Night, or Arabian
Nights (compiled ca. 800–900 ce),a Roc attacks Sinbad and destroys some of his ships in retaliation
for the destruction of one of its eggs. In another story out of the same book,
Rocs drop boulders upon the ships of Abd al-Rahman in retaliation for his
sailors killing a Roc chick.
Fig. 1. Roc attacking Sinbad’s ship
Stories of the
Roc can be traced back to the Greek Historian Herodotus (484–424 bce), who was told by Egyptian priests
of birds so huge they could carry off a person. The story recounted in the Arabian
Nights first appeared in the Jatakas of India, a great compendium of
folktales dating from at least the 4th century bce.
However, the great bird is not named as a Roc. Crusaders brought the story back
to Europe in the Middle Ages, and in the 13th century, Marco Polo
described the Roc in some detail.2
Fig. 2. Two-headed
Roc from 7th Voyage of Sinbad movie, 1958
do not specify if the Roc is actually a raptor or not, but today it is universally
regarded as such. Some myths say that the Roc never lands on Earth but only on
the mountain known as Qaf, in the center of the world. The Roc was said to have
a wingspan of some 48 feet and its feathers alone could measure up to 24 feet
long. In the mid-1200s, gigantic feathers said to be from the Roc were
presented to Kublai Khan, grandson of Emperor Genghis Khan. These, however,
were actually dried fronds of the Raffia Palm (Raphia), the longest
leaves in the plant kingdom, reaching an impressive length of eighty feet.
Fig. 3. The gigantic egg of the
origin of the legend of the Roc may be found in Madagascar’s enormous,
flightless Elephant Bird or Vouron Patra(Aepyornis maximus), which reached eleven
feet in height and weighed 1,100 pounds. Its three-foot-circumference eggs had
a liquid capacity of 2.35 gallons. Bigger than any dinosaur eggs, these were
the largest single cells to have ever existed on Earth. This awesome avian was
exterminated by humans in the 16th century.
Fig. 4. Elephant Bird or Vouron
Vourons had insignificant wings, and black, down-like pilli rather than true
feathers, they were thought to be only the chicks of truly colossal flying
adults. Consider that two of the four Arabian
Nights tales involving the Roc focus on sailors destroying its enormous
eggs and chicks. Sinbad found a Roc’s egg to be as large as 148 hen’s eggs; the
egg of Aepyornis maximus actually had
a volume about 160 times greater
than that of a chicken.3 Even today, preserved or fossilized specimens of these
immense eggs occasionally turn up in the marketplaces of Madagascar, where they
fetch high prices.
Fig. 5. Elephant Bird egg for sale in Madagascar marketplace
South has suggested that tales of the Roc may have been created to explain
meteorites, as several of the stories have the giant birds dropping huge
stones, particularly on ships. This would also seem to be a possible origin for
the tale of the Ababil. According to the Quran, these were huge birds that
saved the city of Mecca in the year of Mohammed’s birth (571ce) by dropping bricks on an attacking
army of elephants. Ababil is now a local name for the common Barn Swallow (Hirundo
Costello suggests that the huge Wandering Albatross (Diomeda exultans) could have also contributed to the legend of the
Roc. It holds the record as
having the largest wingspan of any living bird—some reported as large as 17.5 feet across.
Fig. 6. Wandering albatross
The Native American
equivalent of the Roc, the Thunderbirdis said to carry off bison or even whales. Its feathers are as long as canoe
paddles, and when it flaps its wings, thunder sounds, the wind roars, and lightning
flashes from its eyes. The Thunderbird is often described as a giant,
condor-like creature, though sometimes it resembles a more hawk-like raptor.
They were said to have been sent from the gods to protect humanity from evil.
In other cases, they are regarded as shapeshifters, and are believed to take a
human form at times and even intermarry with people.
Fig. 7. Thunderbird by OZ
some Native American myths, the Thunderbird is the enemy of the killer whale.
In others, it is the enemy of giant, horned Water-Dragons, the Unktehi (see the New Page book Dragonlore, by Ash DeKirk,for a
recounting of this tale, called “The Tlanuhwa and the Uktena”). The Tlanuhwaresembles a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) of gigantic
proportions, and is believed to have been the progenitor of this magnificent
predator. There are caves along the Tennessee River where the Tlanuhwa were
said to have once dwelt.
known by various local names among different tribes. In Iroquois tradition, the
chief of the Thunderbirds is Keneun, the guardian of the sacred
fire. To the Kwakiutl it is Jojo, its Nootka name is Kw-Uhnx-Wa,
and the Ojibwa word for it is Animikii.Its Alaskan Inuit name is Tinmiukpuk, an immense eagle that carries off caribou
and lone humans in its mighty talons and takes them back to its mountain nest
to be devoured.
Fig. 8. Thunderbird (Joho) –
a colossal bird in the folklore of the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy of New England. It
sits still on its rock at the northernmost point of the world, and the
slightest rustling of its feathers sends winds across the entire Earth. The
same bird is called Bmola in the mythology of the Western Abanaki. It is also known
as the Wind Bird, as it is associated with the frigid winds that sweep down
from the frozen North in winter.
Kaneakeluhis a great cosmic bird in the mythology of the Kwakiutl of British
Columbia, Canada; it brought fire to humanity.
The Lakota call
the Thunderbirds Wakinyanor Waukkeon,
and identify four types that can be distinguished in part by the brilliant
colors of their feathers: blue Wakinyan have no eyes or ears, black ones have
huge beaks, and yellow ones have no beak at all. Red Wakinyan are like great,
Fig. 9. Wakinyan shield (Lakota)
Oshädagea(“dew eagle” or “big eagle
of the dew”) is a rather unusual Thunderbird in the mythology of the
northeastern Woodlands Iroquois. He dwells in the western sky and carries a
lake of dew in a hollow on his back, which he sprinkles over the land each
morning to keep it fertile. When there is a forest fire caused by evil demons,
he scoops water from the sea to douse the flames and routs the demons.
Nihniknooviis a monstrous predatory bird in the folklore of the Kawaiisu Tubatulabal
of the Southwest. It hunts humans, carrying his victims in its great talons to
a waterhole where it drains their blood before eating the corpses.
Fig. 10. Nihniknoovi from Final
have been sighted throughout the United States, but mostly in the West and
Midwest. One of the most famous encounters was reported in 1890 in Arizona. Two
cowboys supposedly shot and killed an enormous, birdlike creature with a
whopping 160-foot-wide wingspan, far outstripping the wingspans of more recent
Thunderbird sightings and vastly outreaching the wingspans of any known bird
report is generally considered a
hoax, a more modest, but still quite large, specimen of a condor-like bird with
a 20- to 30-foot-wide wingspan was said to have been killed sometime in the
late 1800s. Although a photo of the bird “strung up with outstretched wings
against a barn, with six men with outstretched arms fingertip to fingertip, to
show its size”5was said to have been published in the Tombstone Epitaph, all trace of it has
disappeared, though it has been redrawn from memory (see below). In all likelihood, this was a California Condor (Gymnogyps
californianus), though this bird
generally attains a wingspan no wider than nine feet.
Fig. 11. Thunderbird shot in late 1800s
commonly identified with the California Condor or even the Andean Condor (Vultur
gryphus), which is known to attain a wingspan of more than fifteen feet.
Some cryptozoologists have proposed that the original Thunderbird may have been
the giant Pleistocene raptor Aiolornis incredibilis, which had a wingspan
of seventeen feet. This huge bird of prey has also been called a giant condor,though it is not
related to modern condors. Even the smaller Ice-Age Teratornis merriami of California, with its twelve-foot wingspan,
may have contributed to the legends. And recently, fossils have been found of
an Argentine teratorn which stood five feet tall and had an astonishing wingspan
of 24 feet!
Fig. 12. Teratornis and
Smilodon, by Charles Knight (Field Museum of Natural History)
Though Thunderbirds are usually likened to
condors or other raptor birds, there is some speculation that they may
represent relic specimens of pterosaurs—a theory based either on fossils or on
continuing reports of live sightings. As Thunderbirds are often portrayed with
long crests at the backs of their heads, they have often been equated with the
great crested Pteranodon, which
attained a wingspan of 27 feet. The largest of the known flying reptiles,
however, was Quetzalcoatlus northropi,which boasted a wingspan of some 40-50
Though it is now believed
that many dinosaurs actually had feathers, pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, and
were hairy, like bats. The 1890 Arizona specimen was said to be featherless, with
skin wing flaps instead, and an elongated head and beak some eight feet in length.
Was it a relic pterosaur or not? We may never know. (See
my “Creature of the Month” article on “Living Pterosaurs.”)
Fig. 13. Cowboys and Pteranodon from movie, Valley of the Gwangi (1958)
There is also the possibility that the
Thunderbird myth originated with North America’s only (thus far) recorded phorusrhacid, or “terror bird:”Diatryma or Titanis walleri. Some
sources say that Titanis died out at least 1.8 million years ago, but
others believe it may have survived until as recently as 15,000 years ago.
Fossil remains have been found in Texas and Florida, indicating the wide range of these awesome birds, and they
would certainly have impressed any Indians who came upon them. All terror birds
are giant, flightless, predatory birds with heavy, hooked beaks the size of a
horse’s head. Most species have been discovered in South America and Mesoamerica.
Titanis stood up to ten feet tall and may, like the elephant bird, have
been regarded as the chick of a much larger raptor.
Fig. 14. Titanis wallleri
and other giant birds compared.
In 1838, a 5-year-old girl
named Marie Delex was playing with a friend on a mountainside in the Valais,
Switzerland. Suddenly a gigantic eagle swooped out of the sky and carried her
off, despite the screams of her companion. Searchers found only one of her
shoes on the edge of a precipice. The great bird’s nest was located, and inside it were two eaglets surrounded by heaps of
goat and sheep remains; of little Marie there was no sign. Two months later a
shepherd discovered her mutilated corpse laying on a rock a mile and a
half from where she had been seized.6
Fig. 15. Marie Delex carried off by
a Lammergeier in the Swiss Alps, 1838
The only known bird this
could have been is the Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). Also called lion
eagle or bearded vulture, it is one of the bases of the legend of the Gryphon.
The world’s mightiest raptor, its German name means “lamb stealer,” which is
what it is known for. Evidently it is also capable of carrying off prey as large as a child.
Fig. 16. Lammergeier
In 1868, an 8-year-old boy
named Jemmie Kenney was snatched from a schoolyard in Tippah County, Missouri,
by an enormous eagle, which bore him aloft. In response to shouts, the
monstrous bird dropped the boy, but he died from the cruel talons and the fall.
In July of 1977, a Thunderbird was sighted in Lawndale, Illinois. Around 9:00 PM
on the 25th, three young boys were playing in their yard when they
were attacked by a giant bird. One of the boys suffered scratches on his shoulder
when the bird grabbed him and carried him for a distance of roughly two feet
before dropping him. The boys said the bird was black with a white ruff, which
fits the description of a condor.7
As recently as June and July of 2001,
Thunderbird sightings were reported from Pennsylvania. Witnesses say the bird
had a wingspan of about fifteen feet and a head roughly three feet in length.
It was described as being grayish-black in color with a long, thin beak. More
sightings occurred in late September of the same year. One of the most recent sightings occurred in 2002 off
the coast of Alaska, but it is believed that this may have been a wayward
Stellar’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus). At 26 pounds, and with a wingspan
up to eight feet, this is the largest eagle in North America.
Other Giant Birds of Note
Ai Tojon—A great, two-headed eagle of Siberian myth, the Ai Tojon lives at
the very top of the World Tree, from which he shines forth light over all the
Fig. 18. Ai Tojon
Arabian bird large enough to carry off an elephant. Much like the Phoenix, it
lives 1,700 years, at the end of which time it burns itself to ashes and rises
again. Because of its great size, it has also been associated with the Roc. The
Arabs believed that they were originally created as perfect birds, but that, over
time, they eventually devoured all the animals
on Earth and started carrying off children. The people appealed to God, who
prevented the Anka from multiplying; thus it eventually became extinct.8
Fig. 19. Angka
Anzu (or Zû)—A gigantic storm-bird in ancient
Mesopotamian mythology. Like a Gryphon, it has a lion’s body and the
head of an eagle with a saw-like beak, though it was sometimes said to have the
body of an eagle and the head and torso of a bearded man. It is the attendant
of Tiamet, the great, primordial serpent-Dragon.
Fig. 20. Anzu
Bar Juchne (or Bar Yacre)—In
TalmudicJewish legend, this is an
enormous bird, similar to the Roc, whose wingspan can eclipse even the sun. It
preys on cattle and even humans.It
was said that, once upon a time, an egg fell from a Bar Juchne nest, shattering
300 trees and flooding 60 villages.
Fig. 21. Bar Juchne
Crocho—An immense bird said to dwell on Cape Daib (Cape Corrientes) at
the tip of Africa. It was said to be 60 paces from wing tip to wing tip, and
able to carry off elephants. According to Fra Mauro (1459), in 1420, an Indian
junk putting in at the coast discovered an egg of this bird that was “as big as
a butt” (a butt is a large cask holding a volume of 126 gallons).
Garuda (or Taraswin, “swift one”)—A gigantic, manlike bird of Hindu mythology
who is the celestial mount of the god Vishnu. He has the body, wings, talons,
and head of an eagle-vulture (lammergeier),
but with a human face and limbs. His colors are gold, scarlet, and green. He is
the sworn enemy of the snakelike Nagas. Emblemizing royalty throughout
Southeast Asia, he is also the symbol of the Indonesian Garuda Airlines. In
Thailand he is called Galon or Khrut.9
Fig. 22. Garuda
vast, eagle-like bird of Norse mythology that nests upon the icy peaks of the
frozen North. Her eaglets are the frigid winds blasted forth by the flapping of
her mighty wings.
Fig. 23. Hraesvelg
Kreutzet—A vast eagle of the folklore of northwestern Russia.
Kusa Kap—A gigantic hornbill bird inhabiting one of the many tiny islands in the
Torres Strait, which separates New Guinea from the northern tip of Queensland,
Australia. With a 22-foot wingspan, this avian prodigy is said to carry dugongs
aloft in its mighty claws, much as the fabled Rocis said to carry off
elephants. The sound of its wings in flight is said to resemble the roar of a
steam engine—a characteristic feature of the Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), which attains a
length of four feet and a wingspan of five feet.10
Fig. 24. Great Hornbill (Kusa Kap)
Naui—A giant bird of Russian folklore resembling a
Dragon, with the head and talons of an eagle.
Ngani-vatu (or Ngutu-lei)—A gigantic predatory bird in the
folklore of the island of Fiji. Its vast body eclipses the sun, and the flapping
of its mighty wings causes great storms. It preys upon the animals and people
of the Pacific Islands until it is destroyed by the hero Okova and his brother-in-law,
The Ngoima—An enormous eagle
said by local natives to be dwelling in the forests of the African Congo. With
a wingspan of 9–13 feet, it preys upon monkeys and goats. Its plumage is dark
brown above and paler beneath. Its legs and talons are as large as a man’s
forearms and hands. This is certainly an exaggerated description of the rarely seen
Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus),
the most powerful eagle in Africa, whose
diet consists of monkeys and even small antelopes.
There have even been reports of the remains of a human
child having been found in the nest of a crowned eagle, though the eagle may
have found the child as carrion rather than actually having killed it. The
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus),
Africa’s largest eagle species, is also known to attack impala and duikers.
Not all that long ago, subfossils were found of the Crowned Hawk-Eagle
(Stephanoaetus mahery), the largest
and strongest bird of prey of prehistoric Madagascar, which only became extinct
after people settled on the island. It was a giant variant within the Stephanoaetus
raptor family, which also includes the crowned eagle.
P’êng (or Pyong)—A vast bird of Chinese legend that is
the metamorphosed form of the huge fish called Kw’ên. Its outspread wings cover the sky from horizon to horizon.
It lives in the north, but each year it rises thousands of feet into the air
and flies toward the south, bringing the typhoon season.11
Pheng—A bird from Japanese legend that
is so gigantic it eclipses the sun and can carry off and eat a camel, much like
of Arabian myth.
Fig. 26. Pheng
Pouakai (or Pouki)—A monstrous
predatory bird of Maori legend. It hunted livestock and people until the last
one was trapped in a great net and stabbed to death by the hero Hau-o-Tawera.
This was a real creature, the giant Haast’s or Harpagornis Eagle (Harpagornis
moorei), that once lived on the South Island of New Zealand. Exterminated
only 600 years ago, it was the largest eagle to have ever lived. A female
weighed up to thirty pounds and stood four feet tall, with a wingspan of 8-10 feet. 12
Fig. 27. Pouakai
Raichō (“thunder bird”)—A fabulous giant rook or crow-like bird in Japanese
folklore. He lives in a tall pine tree, and his raucous calls summon the
storms. This is also the name of a real bird, Lagopus mutus, a kind of ptarmigan or grouse.
Sampati—A giant human-headed bird in Hindu mythology that was the
offspring of the great Garuda.In the Rāmāyana,Hanuman, the monkey-god, asks Sampati
to help find the goddess Sita, who has been abducted to Ravana by the demon
king who killed Sampati’s brother, Jataya. Sampati flies to Sri Lanka and
locates Sita, returning to inform Hanuman and his army how to destroy Ravana
and effect Sita’s rescue. And thus Sampati avenges his brother’s death.13
Fig. 28. Sampati
Simurgh (or Sīna-Mrū,Simarghu, Simurg, Sumargh:“30 birds”)—The magnificent king of the
birds in Arabian legend, representing divine unity. Its beautiful feathers are
prized for their healing properties. Similar to the Roc, it is so huge that it can carry off an elephant or a camel,
but it is also known to take human children into its nest to foster them.
Derived from the Senmurv, it dwells in the mountains of Alberz in northern
Persia. As the Phoenixdoes,this wise and peaceful bird lives for either 1,700 or
2,000 years. Some accounts claim it is immortal, nesting in the Tree of
Knowledge. It is said to be so old that it has seen the destruction of the
world three times over. A bird of the same name attended the queen of Sheba. It
had brass feathers, a silver head, a human face, four wings, a vulture’s talons,
and a peacock’s tail.14
Fig. 29. Simurgh
Vuokho—A monstrous, malevolent bird in the legends of the Lapps of Finland and
Scandinavia. The beat of its vast wings creates thunder, and it inflicts misery
upon humanity. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of the Vuokho in his poem, “The
Destiny of Nations.”
Xexeu—Gigantic birds in the mythology of the Cashmawa Indians of South
America. Similar to the North American Thunderbirds, they are responsible
for bringing the clouds together to create huge storms. Most likely these
creatures derive from the magnificent Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), with its 10-foot-wide wingspan.
Fig. 30. Xexeu
Yata Garasu—A three-legged crow of immense proportions. In Japanese
mythology, the Yata Garasu serves as a divine messenger. It makes a more modern
appearance in the popular card game Yu-Gi-Oh!
Zägh—A gigantic bird of Islamic legend, it has a human head and
the ability to understand and speak all human languages.
Fig. 31. Zägh
Ziz (also Renanim, “celestial singer”; Sekwi,
“the seer”; “Son of the Nest”)—An enormous bird of Hebrew legend, much like the
Roc. It is so huge that when it stands in the middle of the ocean,
the water comes only to its knees. It can block out the sun with its vast wings
and has incredible strength. Once upon a time an addled egg broke, washing away
300 cedar trees and drowning sixty villages. Equated with the Persian Chamrosh, the Ziz was said to have been
created to protect all the small birds, which would have otherwise died out
long ago. According to rabbinical tradition, the meat of this bird will be
served, along with that of the Behemoth and the Leviathan, at a great victory
feast at the end of the world. Corresponding to the giant archetypal creatures
of Persian mythology, the trio of the Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz was
traditionally a favorite decorative motif for rabbis living in Germany.15
Fig. 32. Ziz (in sky), Behemoth (on earth), and Leviathan (under sea)
Monster Movies: giant birds
The Giant Claw a.k.a. Mark of the Claw (1957)—Giant Buzzard
Fig. 33. Giant Claw movie poster
Voyage of Sinbad (1958)—Roc
Fig. 34. The 7th
Voyage of Sinbad movie poster
Mysterious Island (1961)—Phorusrhacos
Fig. 35. Mysterious Island movie poster
Food of the Gods (1976)—Giant Chicken
Fig. 36. Food of the Gods movie poster
Hobbit (animated, 1977) —Giant Eagles
The Rescuers Down Under (animated,
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)—Giant Eagle
Fig. 37. Gandalf rescued from Orthanc by the King of the Eagles
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)—Giant Eagles
BC (2008) —Phorusrhacos
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
(2012) —more Giant Eagles
1.Jones, David, An Instinct for Dragons, Routledge,
2.South, Malcolm (Ed.), Mythical and Fabulous Beasts:
A Source Book and Research Guide, Greenwood Press; New York, 1987