In 1976, residents of South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley were terrorized by a huge, ape faced, winged beast, which, according to eyewitness reports, bore two blood-red eyes.

While this creature may share the same moniker as the affectionate, yellow plumed character adored by millions on Sesame Street, anyone who’s ever encountered this ape-faced, bird-like monstrosity will tell you that this creature is anything but lovable.

Although Tom Waldon would claim to have found unusual,three-toed tracks measured 8-inches across embedded in the ground near his Harlingen home on January 2nd, 1976, the first known sighting of the creature that would come to be known as “Big Bird” occurred on January 1st, 1976,  when, then 11-year old Tracey Lawson  and her 14-year old cousin, Jackie Davies, saw the beast while playing in Lawson’s back yard near Harlingen, Texas.

The two girls claim they saw the creature standing approximately 300-feet away in an irrigation canal. Lawson, frightened yet intrigued, went inside to get her binoculars. When she returned, Lawson did not a the large bird she expected, but a mysterious monster staring back at her. Not surprisingly their parents, who had yet to hear any reports of the creature, were skeptical of the girls’ story.

That would be until the wee hours of January 7th when a San Benito, Texas, police officer named Arturo Padilla claimed to have seen something extraordinary in the headlights of his cruiser.

Padilla described the creature as looking like a “really big bird,” approximately 5-feet in height with a 12-foot wingspan. As striking as the proportions of this AVIAN ANOMALY are, far and away the most intriguing aspects of this flying fiend were its bald head and simian-like features complete with bright red eyes.

Almost immediately following this initial encounter, Padilla’s colleague — officer, Homer Galvan — also reported seeing the thing, but due to his distant proximity all he was able to discern was a large, black, winged creature silhouetted against the sky.

Later that night, Alverico Guajardo and his nephew Ricardo — who were fishing on the banks of the Rio Grande — also claimed to have encountered the thing. They described it as having eyes as big as silver dollars and a long, skinny beak, despite the fact that it resembled a huge bat.

The next day the Brownsville Herald ran a story about Guajardo’s  bizarre sighting and quoted Alverico as saying:

“I was scared. It’s got wings like a bird, but it’s not a bird. That animal is not of this world.”

This abnormally powerful fear is a sensation shared by many people who claim to have had encounters other fantastic, red-eyed, flying fiends such as the MOTHMAN, the BLACK BIRD OF CHERNOBYL, the FREIBURG SHRIEKER and the Anomalies, Monsters
, just to name a few.

That having been stated, the mammalian features described by most witnesses, would seem to preclude quasi-paranormal creatures like the ones listed above. Still, as terrifying as this apparition was to behold, the worst was yet to come.

On January 14, 1976, Raymondville resident Armando Grimaldo claimed to have had the most harrowing encounter yet chronicled with this aerial atrocity. According to Grimaldo, he heard a loud flapping sound accompanied by a odd whistling noise while walking outside. Just as he glanced up to find the source of this strange noise a pair of large, talon-like claws grabbed onto the back of his shoulders, tearing his shirt and sending him crashing to the ground.

Grimaldo managed to scramble to his feet and dove under a nearby tree for protection. He stared in horror as the “Big Bird” flew away.

Neighbors, responding to Grimaldo’s shrieks, claimed that they found him in his back yard shaking and screaming, his shirt and jacket  torn. Grimaldo would later describe his airborne assailant as a soaring, gorilla-faced creature with leathery, bat-like skin.

This description is not unlike those of WINGED MONKEYS that have been seen in some of the most remote regions of the Earth, such as the Indonesian ORANG-BATI, the Vietnamese AHOOL, Cameroon’s bat-like OLITIAU and even North America’s dubiously named BATSQUATCH.

On February 24th, 1976, three teachers from San Antonio claimed to have seen the “Big Bird” near Harlingen as well. The trio indicated that the creature did not look bird or bat-like, but resembled most an order of FORMERLY EXTINCT flying reptiles that were thought to have been wiped out along with the dinosaurs nearly 65 million years ago known as pteranodons.

These bizarre sightings persisted in the area for several weeks and it wasn’t long before the press got wind of these encounters and a wave of “Big Bird” hysteria swept the nation.

Local radio stations offered $1,000 rewards for the capture of this creature and television news teams showed footage of 9 by 12-inch, bird-like tracks that were said to be those of the “Big Bird.” The incident would soon reach the apex of its fame when it was spoofed by none other than the legendary Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

As the frenzy surrounding this phenomenon peaked, Ed Dutch, commission officer of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department – no doubt fearing that would-be monster hunters might mistakenly shoot and kill large, rare and protected birds — announced that the birds were protected by state and federal law:

“We have a number of species of birds that do exist in South Texas in the Valley area. Many of them have wingspans up to perhaps 10 feet or in excess of 10 feet, and some of them are on the rare endangered species list. The punishment for catching a protected bird could cost a hunter $5,000.”

Not long after the initial “flap” of sightings, a 5-foot tall jabiru — the tallest flying bird found in South and Central America, with a wingspan up to 9-feet — was found far from its Latin American home, near the Rio Grande River.

This combined with video footage of a large blue heron, which was passed off on a local news program as genuine footage of the creature; led some to surmise that the whole “Big Bird” fad was nothing more than non-indigenous birds being misidentified by overeager eyewitnesses.

Of course, for those who had all too close encounters with this creature — such as Officer Padilla, and Armando Grimaldo — the skeptics claim that the whole flap was caused by nothing more than giant storks and blue herons was patently ridiculous. One does not need to be a trained ornithologist to recognize the differences between a bird’s beak and a primate’s face.

Alex Resendez claimed to have seen the “Big Bird” three times during in the 1970s. The first two sightings consisted of brief glimpses of the beast over Brownsville, but the third time; Resendez swore he saw it in broad daylight near his rural McCook area home.

Resendez said the huge animal had landed not far from him in a cow pasture, which is not surprising as this animal — much like many creatures reputed to be from OUT OF THIS WORLD — was accused of numerous cattle mutilations.

He described the thing as having glassy, black eyes underscored by distinctive red markings, but its oddest feature was its beak. In his own words:

“You have to look close because his beak is very transparent. If you see it real fast, you’re going to think he ain’t got no beak… I never seen a bird that big. He was brownish, like dirt… He does not have long legs and does not stand like other birds.”

Resendez estimated that the brown bird stood over 4-feet tall, but before he could inspect it any further, an angry bull charged at the creature. The “big Bird” wasted no time in unfurling its large wings — which, much to his surprise, appeared to have blue and white stripes — and taking flight. The short legs and translucent beak would seem to indicate that this is not a typical stork or heron as skeptics claimed.

While Texas has been long known for its THUNDERBIRD sightings — and there are more than a few who have speculated that the “Big Bird” may be the very same creature — there is nothing in the annals of American zoology that even remotely compares to the ferocious, flying, ape-faced fiend that stalked the Texas skies all those years ago.

© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011

  • tarun thakur

    All of my family members are evident of this huge beard like creature. in a span of year My 10yrs old Son , Me myself and recently my wife have observed that creature.
    My son told me how it was looking like but I didnt care until caught it front of my eyes in last winters , just 2 secs and it vanished behind front rows of house , I looked around for more people watching it but there was nobody … I forget the incident and never told anybody , but last night my wife was on the top of house with 3yr old kid , she asked me to come fast , but I lost the sight , she was amazed and describing the same creature previously watched by my son and me.

    The concern is why only my family witnessed it ?
    May be our surprise visits to roof and our stairs buide in spiral shape, so whenever anybody go upside his head is always towards open sky and its hard to locate us from birds-eye-view .

    Our conclusions are same and the wingspan of that creature is awesome 15-20 Feet , it flies with amazing speed , we all have seen it while dive and no sound or wind produced … two times in busy day time and people who were beneath it have no clue , what went over there heads … its amazing and i am sharing it here for some conclusions from other sides …

    I have no words to describe that thrill !

    • juan

      my friend saw this bird here in muleshoe, texas on tusesay may 19, 2015 he was very terrified

    • American Monsters

      Juan, if you could have your friend contact us we’d be much obliged… we’d love to collect all of the information available on this and other cryptids – thanks!

  • ladyleo

    In my home town about 11 yrs ago me and about 5 others we’re standing outside one night and saw 4 unearthly birds flying in a circle. We thought surely this couldn’t be real until the next other ppl in the town had seen the exact same thongs..

    • kyle swearingen

      prolly just vultures they can get big and they fly in circles when they smell something dead

  • Kristina Martinez

    My bf seen something he describes as a hairless bird about 5 or 6 feet tall with a baby face. He was in his early twenties at the time so it was around ten to twelve years ago. He was with friends driving down one of the back roads in Crowley, Tx in the middle of the night when they came across it feeding, they stopped about thirty feet from it in dead silence, it caught sight of the car and they said it leaped off the road in three jumps and cleared a fifteen foot fence. He said its legs were really thin and looked backwards, kind of like how most people believe birds legs are backwards but really you’re looking at its ankles. I don’t remember him ever mentioning wings though, doesn’t mean it didn’t have them. He’s told me this story a couple of times and it still gives me the creeps, I’ve also tried to find information on what he saw numerous times before..just so happens that tonight I decided to type in ”backwards legs” into to google images and this sites picture was the first to come up. I’m not really afraid that it’s still in Crowley because it’s had a real big population boom (meaning more building, homes, walmarts, whatnot) in the last five or ten years and I don’t imagine it staying…twenty years ago Crowley was pretty rural though.

  • Alan Lowey

    Just posted yesterday, this story from Virginia describes the same things:

    “Hello. My name is Gene. I just joined to find some help…

    Today my sister and I were alone at our house. It was a weird day, like
    70 degrees outside in December. Anyways, I was upstairs in my room and
    my sister went downstairs in the kitchen. She screamed and came upstairs
    and told me she saw a monster.

    She was looking out of a window, towards the woods in the backyard and
    heard our dog barking a low, weird way, then he ran towards the woods.
    She looked into the woods and saw two bird like creatures. She said they
    had really long black skinny bird legs, white sausage like bodies, and a really long and big black beak. She said they looked like they were about 6-7ft tall, an one was shorter than the other. The creepiest part: She said they were both
    hopping very high into the air together, probably 10ft. She said she saw
    them for about 3 seconds then they “hopped away”. She was extremely scared and so am I……… What the heck were those things?

    By the way, we are in the coastal Virginia. Oh and also about the
    weather, there was a strange summer/hurricane like storm right before
    this happened. It was at like 4:00 pm. “

  • Keanan Henderson

    My brother when walking to school, he said on a tree looking straight at him was a 5 foot standing bird that was black with red eyes. And we do live in Texas. It could be the same thing.

    • John Doe

      It was the la chuza

      • Paulina

        this is a lie it says 65 million years ago how did yall saw it about a week ago week ago

  • Regena Sorensen-Taylor

    i have always belive in what my friends call the crazy, parnormal, or the not real. but to me i know in my heart my soul that these this thing are real and are out there its just time till we find them or they find us. you can call me crazy,nuts or what ever you want but i know and belive that they are real.

  • Lillian Mimun

    I witnessed this incredible giant bird in broad daylight. I was living with my dad on Wright Carpenter Rd in San Antonio, Texas. It was during my High School year (1976). As luck would have it, I was alone when I saw (and heard) the huge bird. My dad’s house was pretty much surround be fields so the closest house was about 100 or more yards away.

    I was outside when I noticed the bird flying. For a moment, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked down the field and realized that the bird was quite a distant away based on the size of the field of which I had walked across so many times before and yet it still looked unbelievably large. This is when I realize that my mind was not playing tricks on me. The bird was huge and I mean huge. But not only was this thing a giant, it was unlike any bird I had ever seen. (in real life that is). The bird actually looked prehistoric. I looked around hoping to see someone else. I didn’t want to be the only witness but there was no one around. Basically there was nothing I could do but watch it fly away into the horizon. The bird mostly glided but when it flapped it’s wings (once or twice at a time), I could hear the wings strike the air like a whip. I was at awe. The experience was incredible.

    I couldn’t wait for my stepmom to come home so I could tell her about it, although I seriously didn’t think she would believe me. as I could hardly believe it myself. When she got home, the first thing I said to her was, “I know your not going to believe this but…” Much to my surprise, she said that she did believe me. She advised that she had just heard about it at the elementary school. Evidently word had just got around that some teachers had seem the bird earlier that day. When my dad got home, we talked about it again. I sat outside that evening hoping it would make it’s round again. It never did. The odd thing is that, I don’t remember hearing anything else about it other then what my stepmother had told me that afternoon, that is until 25 years later.

    It was around the year 2002. I was surfing the net one day and it was by chance that I came across a news video on youtube. Sure enough, there it was. The news casters were talking about those three south side teachers who saw the bird on Feb. 26, 1976. I got so excited that I started yelling for my friend to come watch the video since I had told him about the bird years before and I knew he would remember. I was so glad to see it because to tell you the truth, even though I know what I saw that afternoon 20 some odd years ago, I wasn’t sure if my stepmom was making it up about the teachers just to be agreeable. I finally had the witnesses I wanted 20 years ago.

  • Gloria

    Do not understand why the story of Ernest jones in herald press Palestine Texas on a big bird sighting in12-17-1976 is nowhere to be found! I lived there at the time, in Anderson county and it really happened in Palestine.

    • Gloria

      By the way I have the newspaper clipping

      • American Monsters

        Gloria, we would love to see a copy of the clipping if you can scan it in!

  • kyle swearingen

    i just found out about this and my family has been talking about how they had seen a giant bird in the late 70s i never really believed them until now. i still don’t think it is 100% true is because i live in east Texas in a small town named Silsbee Texas and the sighting that are on here are very far away. about 10 people in my family has seen it or so they say.

  • 1975_1976 my brother, neighbor n I were outside mid day. We see this huge bat like thing look like pteranadon. Long beak w thing sticking out back of head. Had a tail kinda like an arrow. Skin looked brownish black n rubbery. It was flying north northwest. I was in 7th grade at Jefferson jr high in Pharr, Tx. Mr. Joe Mejia our science teacher had a wall in classroom. What does the bird of South Texas look like. All same pictures. They were hand drawn n lots of kids saw same as I. Think of that often.

  • Alex Aguilar

    About a three years ago, my family and I were at my uncle’s ranch in Los Fresnos, Tx. I was inside when my younger cousin ran in screaming that everyone saw a huge bird. My family had been walking around the property (there are fields surrounding it) when they heard what sounded like huge wings flapping, followed by what they described as a huge, black bird fly right above them. My mother and sister were visibly shaken and almost in tears. They said they’ve never heard a bird make such a loud noise with it’s wings while taking off.

    I don’t remember if it was before or after this happened, but my uncle had called my dad one night scared out of his mind saying that he saw an “angel” standing in the middle of the street outside the ranch before sprouting wings and flying off. He says he could barely see it, but it was avian in nature and stood about as tall as a man.

    My dad, uncle, grandpa and I set out to look for the thing after these two incidents. I don’t remember where exactly we went, but we drove to a remote part of the ranch lands into what was a marsh like part of Los Fresnos that looked like roads were barely being built. It was close to a wildlife sanctuary, I remember. We drove up a hill and it had a view directly into the bushy marsh and that’s when I spotted a very strange looking bird standing in a pond. It was incredibly disturbing, because it looked like an African Shoe Bill. I knew those birds were nowhere near native to south Texas but that’s the closest thing I could compare it to. It stood about 4-6 feet and looked almost angry. Its bill looked like that of a shoebill bird but its eyes looked much more curved down, giving it a somewhat menacing appearance. We became very unsettled and left.

    These incidents occurred within weeks of each other, then I saw the Monster Quest episode about the Thunderbird and they actually came to Brownsville, my hometown, to interview witnesses.
    To this day I am very disturbed by all the sightings and descriptions of this creature.

  • Alex Aguilar

    I forgot to mention the sightings occured around late fall on cool, cloudy, somewhat windy days.

  • haden

    you people do know its called the thunder bird

  • Arun

    I have seen a bird same as the couple seen on February 24th 1976, I have seen it at my university (governors state university, university park, Illinois) I heard a different sound and seen in the sky, then I have seen a huge bird, it didn’t have feathers It looks like the same thing.

  • Melissa

    In 2001/2002,I lived in Gonzales,Texas and worked as a Corrections Officer at the Gonzales county sheriff’s department,one night in May,at around 1am,after attending my niece’s high school graduation from Bowie high school in Austin,Texas,my sister and I were driving home on Hwy 183 pass Luling,Texas and 2 creatures perched like birds with wings were on the middle of the road,they had light brown skin,at first glance they looked like gargoyles,my sister said they looked like they were nude,and I slammed on the breaks thinking I was about to crash into them,I was driving at about 70 MPR,they saw me and spread their huge wings and flew off,one flew right into my car and broke my driver’s side mirror and antenna,splattering blood and pieces of skin on my windshield and roof.Iwas so frightened,I didn’t look back just drove as quickly as I could into Buc-ee’s gas station in Gonzales,I got out and clean out all the blood and skin off my car,my sister and I were both pretty shaken and were going to go back to see what we hit,but decided to do it the morning instead,when we went back,there was nothing there,but blood splatter on the road,but no pieces of anybody/creature on the side either.I wonder if anyone that lives between Austin,San Antonio,Victoria,Gonzales area ever saw any creatures like that?

  • American Monsters

    Such a shame you or your father didn’t get a chance to see it first hand. I would love to be able to confirm the bizarre appearance of this classic Avian Anomaly… do you by any chance know of any other witnesses?

  • This is my own story from when i encountered it several months back I don’t know what I saw but close to where I live I was walking by the canal in north Kansas City Rd. 6 miles away as it got dark the atmosphere changed and I felt on high alert for some reason. As I was heading back to my house at night I saw this dark bat winged figure that you could only see it’s wings, and as I continued walking I encountered it again but this second time I saw it I heard a dark evil laugh along with it.

  • Erika Rincon

    It was in 2005 on my way to high school in La Joya, TX that I first saw this huge black bird. I was riding the bus on the expressway around 7:30 am and in the distance I’m guessing part of Mexico, since we live near the border, I saw something huge and flying in the distance. I mean I can tell the difference of a crow and this was not a crow, so far away and it still looked huge. It was just flying towards us but far far away. It reminded me of jeepers creepers in size but I was not able to see the face only the large black wings.