Creepy Mysteries: Thunderbird of Illinois

The evening of July 25, 1977 was said to be particularly hot in Lawndale, Illinois. At the Lowe residence, the family matriarch Ruth was going through her usual routine of cleaning up after her family’s dinner while her children played outside with friends. The woman was drawn outside by a loud noise coming from her backyard and she wanted to know what her kids were up to. In an instant she saw her yard blanketed by the shadowthiunder2 of something large descending towards the ground. Before she could comprehend what she was seeing, a large pair of talons had gripped her son Marlon. In an amazing display of power, massive bird was actually able to lift the child a full 2 feet above the ground. While a number of onlookers were too shocked to act, Ruth Lowe ran out and helped her son struggle against the creature. This eventually worked as the enormous bird reluctantly released the child and flew off with identical creature.

Normally an event such as what Ruth Lowe reported, would be written off as a story of fiction from someone wanting attention. But considering the amount of credible witnesses on hand for the attack she actually had to be taken seriously. Lowe was questioned by law enforcement about the animal which grabbed her son and gave a description which sound similar to an Andean Condor, only much larger than any known condor. According to Ruth it was black in color with a white ring around it’s neck, with wings and a tail which were at least 10 feet long. James D. Daniels who was at the Lowe house that evening told the Freeport Journal Standard, that if he wished he could have found any reasonable explanation for what he saw, but none existed.

Since Pre-Colonial days, the idea of large birds has been a part of legend and folklore in thunder1America. In fact the Cahokia Tribe who once resided in Illinois would often speak of massive flying creatures and even left behind artistic rendering of them. They were dubbed the Piasa Birds who legend held that they were quite capable of snatching up an eating fully grown men. They were far from the only tribe in this era who believed in such a thing, as the “Thunderbird” was a cornerstone legend across the Native American lands. Strangely enough sightings of such creatures have persisted across the United States. Legend still holds of a pterosaur who terrorized an Arizona community during the 1800’s. In 1976 a group of school teachers in Texas had their morning commute interrupted by an enormous winged creature of unknown origin. In fact near the town of Alton, Illinois an Army Colonel Walter Siegmund once reported seeing a bird the size of a “jet plane”. Even in the metropolitan hub of Chicago, Illinois many witnesses in recent years have reported seeing a flying monster which bears a striking resemblance to the infamous Mothman.

In reporting the incident the Lowe family became a laughing stock in their community. Marlon was often mocked at school and was dubbed “bird boy”. Sadly he had no refuge at home either as people would pelt the Lowe house with dead pigeons. In the face of such ridicule the Lowe family and the other witnesses to the Thunderbird attack have stuck by their story. Given the stories and legends of giant birds in the region, perhaps there is truth to Marlon Lowe’s traumatic attack. If so, where did an animal of that size go and hide? Could the mysterious and dangerous Thunderbird still be lurking in our skies?