Cryptopia brings us this terrorizing story about a huge bird in South Texas. – Harlingen


By Rob Morphy

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
CRIMEAN WAR MONSTROSITIES, 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.

If you have experienced something like this before, comment below.

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13 Comments on “Terrorizing Big Bird – Harlingen, Texas”

  1. My mother told me that when she was a child she was playing with my uncles and aunt by a canal that was two houses down from her grandmother’s house a large bird landed close by. She told me this story a couple of years ago and I find it quite chilling that I’m reading this article. She said she could see this creature’s facial features but it looked more like a pterodactyl. To be honest I found it hard to believe because children’s imagination can run wild, but my family and I have had a lot of experience with the paranormal, so part of me did believe her. This article cements my belief in her story.

      1. Like I was saying this happens here in harlingen tx I was in my early teens when I had gone to my friends house next to Vernon middle school I got off they where all scared under there porch as I walked tords them they said hurry a big bird is flying an wanted to take my friend I was like stop playing so I went out there as looked up I saw the moon on top of me an then there it was a huge bite bird looking thing bout 4 feet tall wings like bat an red eyes so bright I was scared I ran an it came down at me I through my self to the floor an I heard the wings flap an wind down my back I got up an got under the porch we looked up again an it was just flying up in the sky in a cycle tell twenty or so minutes passed an just like that it was gone so when I hear this stories I believe Wat I saw

  2. The day I left the valley I was in the backyard of my childhood home in McAllen taking one last look at my garden when I noticed all the neighborhood dogs started barking at once. I happen to look up and see a humanoid creature that had wings like a bat but the body and head of a human. This creature had legs I could see hanging down and what looked like hairless grey skin. It was just hovering over my house flapping it’s wings once every few seconds. I was petrified to the point where I could do nothing but stand and stare till it flew off going south.

  3. This happened a couple of years ago, some friends and i where at my house playing when one of them decided it was time for him to go home. It was late at night and it was dark since the street had no lights, as we walk to the street infront of my house and look towards my friends house we see this big large flying creature stop in one of my friends big trees that he had in his front yard. My friend said he wasn’t scared and started walking towards his house. As soon as he goes into his front yard, he came out running and crying straight to his sister house who lived a couple of house to the other side of my house. About 5 minutes later my friend comes back but this time with his sister, when we ask what had happened, he told us that while he was passing the gate from his house he heard some noises on top off the tree and when he looked up, he saw a big shadow ” kind of looked like a bird” with big red eyes just starring down at him. Thats was the only time we saw it.

  4. I am not from the valley, and had never heard of this until about 2 years ago.

    However, in 2012 while at a deer camp on 1017 out of Ana Manuel, I got out to open a gate at about 10 pm with a bright moon. After closing the gate, something with about a 10-15’ wingspan and a red light glided over head. Once I got to the camp I told the guys, and although I thought the silhouette very closely resembled wings of an animal, and no noise was heard, we dismissed it as most likely some sort of border patrol or drug related aircraft.
    Then in 2016, one of the hunters from the camp that night instructed me to google big bird.
    I don’t have any real description of it other than the silhouette I saw in the moonlight, but it was silent, and I estimate it was about 20-30’ overhead with a 10-15’ wingspan that didn’t resemble any glider I have ever seen.

  5. I lived over in Kerville in front of the Guadalupe River. This one day, when I was around 10, I walked down to the river and saw a wierd bird. It almost looked like a pelican, but was HUGE! It was on a thick branch, sitting, about 4ft. It’s hangy thing was red and had these dark black eyes. It had feathers that were black. All I know is I ran and never spoke of it again until I saw this show Unexplained.

  6. my mother was out in the yard in Raymondville one day at this time and thought there was a small plane, maybe a glider flying over town. then it flapped its wings… she never said anything to anybody but me. that evening at the VFW bingo she was sitting with the chief of police’s wife and friends. he came in shook up. he had seen something flying overhead like he had never seen before. my mother then told them what she had seen earlier. the chief was relieved. he knew she didn’t drink either. it wasn’t his imagination running wild.

  7. Back in the 70’s between 1976-79 we would go to my grandmother’s house to visit in Harlingen, TX. She lived near by a canal. And my aunts and ucles would talk about the Big Bird. Then one day bright as day light . My parents and I were driving to my grandmother’s house . And from the distance maybe about 50 yards we witnessed a huge bird diving down into the canal. Being 8 or 9 years old I will never forget that sight . It had about 12 to 14 ft wingspan. I wasn’t never afraid . Just more like couldn’t believe what I just saw. Matter of fact I’ve seen that Thunderbird twice diving in and out from the canal.

  8. Back in the 70’s between 1976-79 we would go to my grandmother’s house to visit in Harlingen, TX. She lived near by a canal. And my aunts and ucles would talk about the Big Bird. Then one day bright as day light . My parents and I were driving to my grandmother’s house . And from the distance maybe about 50 yards we witnessed a huge bird diving down into the canal. Being 8 or 9 years old I will never forget that sight . It had about 12 to 14 ft wingspan. I wasn’t never afraid . Just more like couldn’t believe what I just saw. Matter of fact I’ve seen that Thunderbird twice diving in and out from the canal.

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