Brand New Sighting of Giant Black Bird in Alabama!

Just got a report from a couple, Bill and Jean Summers, that they saw a giant black bird yesterday (September 28, 2012) near their home. The Summers live near Buck’s Pocket State Park in North Alabama. I’d like you to read their account in Bill’s own words. Jean also sent me a comment to confirm she had seen it too.

Bill’s Account

Here’s Bill’s account:

“I witnessed a huge black bird with a white ring around its neck and had some white markings between the wings and tail. This happened yesterday 9-28-12 around 5:00 pm.

I was watching it out our kitchen window and it was about 100 yards out near my entrance to the farm. I looked up many birds in my bird book and have seen bald eagles out here many times, I really couldn’t believe my eyes as it flew over a field and then disappeared around some trees.

I told my wife Jean that I’ve never seen a bird that big and that it definitely wasn’t a bald eagle because I specifically looked for a white head, this bird had a black head. It flew over an old rusty hayrake near my entrance way and its wingspan was wider than the rake which is around 6 ft. wide. I would estimate its wingspan at round 10 ft.

I called a neighbor who lives around 1/4 mile from me and asked him if he had seen the bird. He [said he] watched it land on my county rd. 609 (gravel rd. to my house). He said that he could see a white head and that he thought it was a bald eagle. I told him that I actually saw a black head with a white ring around its neck. He told me that it flew from the road to a large pine tree near my lower pond where it sat for around 5 minutes and then it flew off in a southerly direction. He said that it looked to have a wingspan of at least 8 ft. and that he saw a white head on it.

I actually looked on the internet and found that an Andean Condor looks very similar to the bird that I watched yesterday. I think my friend could have mistaken the white ring around its neck for the white head of a bald eagle. Hope someone will be able to see this bird to substantiate my sighting.”

I’m very excited about this report because it is so FRESH! A couple things occur to me: I think his friend was actually seeing a bald eagle because Bill and Jean were very clear that their bird’s head was totally black, save for the collar ring which was white. He also said they have bald eagles in the area, so I think the neighbor thought they were looking at the same bird, but wasn’t.

Andean Condors

Here’s a photo of an Andean Condor to the right.

Let’s review the stats for an Andean Condor: body about 4 feet long, wingspan 10.5 feet wide, weighs around 33 pounds. Males have the white collar around the neck. But here’s the hitch … according to National Geographic, “Like their relatives, the California condors, Andean condors have bald heads.”

Andean Condors like to live near mountains with reliable wind currents to help them get aloft. But they’ll also live near coastlines which tend to have good wind flow around them, as well as deserts which usually have strong thermal currents rising from the desert floor.

There are mountains in Northern Alabama. Living in or near a state park would also likely supply them with a good amount of food. Here are two close-ups of this bird:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These condors have been on the endangered species list for quite a while, but lately their numbers are improving thanks to captive breeding programs in place.

 

 

 

California Condors

The wingspan of these birds varies between 8 and 9 feet, sometimes almost reaching 10 feet. However, note in the photos below, the head is reddish/fleshy looking in flight, and there is considerable white on the underside of the wings. I do not think the Summers’ saw a California Condor, so we can rule that out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Did They See?

I’m on the fence about the Andean Condor. Sure the males have the white collar, but their heads are bald. Bill was quite clear that the bird’s head was covered with black feathers.

There’s still a part of me that wants to believe these birds are either a hybrid of the condors, or perhaps a relative of Argentavis magnificens.

 

What do you think?

Also, please let us know if  you spot any unusual “fly overs” in your area. Keep your cameras handy!

33 comments

  1. In my article about the huge black bird, I actually stated that it had a black head but I couldn’t look at it from 130 yard away to see if it had black feathers on its head…..it could have possible been dark gray or black skin that I saw. But as it was in my viewing field which may have been 3 seconds at the most, before it disappeared, I specifically looked at the leading part of its body (the head) to see if it was a bald eagle and I saw what looked like a dark head with a band of white around its neck, possibly 1 foot from its apex, the beak.

    • Thanks for clarifying Bill. The condors have fleshy colored heads (which are featherless), so if it was a black head, I have to think feathers were in place. Maybe not, but it seems more reasonable to me. I’m thinking of hawks and crows — when you see them, you don’t particularly “see” the feathers, you just see the coloration and know what that is. Well, as I said, keep your camera handy! 🙂

    • I thought so too, Christy. We need to get really good photos or videos of these things, if not a carcass, before science will believe us. Hopefully we’ll have that one day soon!

  2. It’s common knowledge that Bald Eagles don’t actually get white feathers on their heads until they are fully matured. Until then, they are solid black. What he saw was probably an immature Bald Eagle that was just beginning to get it’s white feathers. Especially if eagles are already in the area. Best way to spot an eagle in flight is it’s wings will be straight like a board. The do not slant forward like raptors and vultures, and they coast with them parallel to the ground.

    • I take your point about the immature bald eagles. Vultures have a collar of white feathers around their neck, and in his description he sites the fact that it had a collar of white around its neck. Since then he and his wife told me they think it may have been a female frigate bird because of an influx of those birds in their area, due to some weather pattern or something. I guess we’ll never know until someone gets a VERY clear and fairly close-up photo.

  3. I’ve personally witnessed several birds that looked to me like giant ravens while visiting in Taos,NM back in 2010. These birds were quite remarkable and breath taking, actually seeing them hoist a large hind quarters of what seemed to be a cows leg. They could have easily have grabbed me up like something out of a fairytale, the reality of what I saw|was in my own mind convincingly normal!…. Little did i know even as a bird lover as I am, I had witnessed a rare unknown breed of black bird.

    • Clayton, I am so excited to hear this report! If you see them again, please try to get photos, especially ones that show some sense of scale, like the birds against the backdrop of a mesa or something. I know I’d love to see them! Thanks for sharing!!

      • Lorenzo, where and when did you see this huge bird and what kind of characteristics did it have such as colors, collar and such? I think one of these huge birds still hangs around a 1000 acre deer hunting region. Its around Langston, Alabama right on the Tennessee river. Hunters keep spotting it in the late evening on certain occasions.

        • William, I would love to talk to some of these people who have seen this bird, yourself included, possibly for a future podcast (if I can figure out how to do it long distance!) and certainly an updated article. Would you please contact me via my email: cryptoville@hotmail.com

          Did anyone get photos of it???

          … Susan (CryptoVille)

          • Susan, so far no photos have been taken of this bird. I’ll be talking with these guys from the hunting club so that I have more to go on. I haven’t spoke with them about this bird sighting in a couple of months.

  4. I’ve as well witness a fairly large black bird that seemed about 6 feet tall from a distance. It was on the ground and fly straight up into the air. I tell my friends about it and they believe i am exaggerating! It was large and all black, I felt intimidated but also amazed of seeing this unknown creature. What a revelation!

  5. clayton and cryptoville it made me very happy that i am not the only one i have seen a ird two times in mynlife im 24 years old i live in toms river NJ and i have seen possibly the most rare bird alive this thing was at least 6 ft and i would know because im 6ft and stood within ten foot of the creature it scared the life out of me, not many ppl elieve me but i kno wut i saw and it was unlike any thing or bird ive ever seen i have yet to see any pictures even close to the size of this thing if someone gets a picture i wuld love to see it. my mother saw it as well one morning on her way to work she never believed me until she saw it herself and she called the cops they thought he was nuts…

  6. I saw a large black bird this morning flying over my neighborhood in Seattle, WA. Hard to judge size from below, but it looked strikingly large. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a bald eagle – I’ve seen plenty of those, both adult and juvenile. From below, it was all black with just a thin white band at the bottom of the tail. Its wings were long, narrow, and straight, and it flew with a distinctive deep wave-like motion – it wasn’t soaring.

    • Thank you for sharing this account Estera! Very exciting! Do California Condors fly up into your area? I know they’re big, but they have a white ring around their neck, not their tail. I still wonder if there isn’t something else flying around up there. We get these reports from literally all over the US! If you get a photo sometime please share with us. Thanks! … Susan

  7. I saw a giant black bird, around 13ft wingspan in Colton Ca, about 6 yrs -ago in May or June. I was living in Centre pointe apartments near the intersection of Mt.Vernon and Washington, near the SanBernardino mountains. My mom and I stepped onto my upstairs porch, at rear of complex, where there is just an empty parking lot and storm wash. On left of lot, across from me was another apartment building, with a tree next to it, that was where we saw the bird. The tree was 2/3 as tall as the 2 story building. I know we saw it just as it was landing, because the whole tree was shaking. He was all black, even his face and beak were so black it blended in with the rest of him. My mom started yelling and cussing, and yelling for my sons to look at the huge black bird, but they wereplaying a videogame and ignored her! If they had just leaned back they would have seen it. I was quiet watching it’ and it looked like it was watching us (about 120ft away). It was there less than a minute, then started flapping its wings 3 times, making the whole tree start bouncing and shaking against, and was up. When its wings were spread they were as wide as the tree (13ft), my mom and I both mentioned that later. He flew away in the direction of my Vernon ave at rush hour, so people had to see him, unless he stopped and landed in the wash, I didn’t get to see because the building blocked my view. My mom told me to get my phone and run down there and take a picture, but I was way too scared. It was as tall as me 5ft, and all I could see was being carried away! I told a couple people and got bad reactions, so didn’t mention again, then just found one really similar report on digg.com. from someone who saw it in Arizona just afew months before me.

      • You’re welcome, I’m glad to share! I didn’t see white. Possible it could have been hidden by front angle I saw him from, it could have been blocked by his black beak. He appeared to be a mass of black so it was hard to even make out where his head and neck began. I am sure about the width though, because I stood under the tree later with a tape measure.

  8. I saw a bird just like Bill and Jean summers had described . It was all dark with a white ring around neck and white underneath before tail feathers wing span of about 12′ to 14′ it was taking off from the ground about 30 ‘ up in the air when I noticed it. It was about 200 yards away middle of the day sunny out and it flew right past some turkey buzzards and it was 3 x the size of any one of them it was on September 20- 2013 in the area of Brookhaven Pa. where I work and one other person saw it also, he was delivering to the company I work for it looked to be raptor like in the way it was shaped and the way it flapped its wings. I am 51 years old and work construction using a tape measure a lot so I know how big it was and I have been hunting since I was 12 and fished all my life I never saw a bird that big before and don’t understand how it can exist with out being known about, but I saw it and glad others have to.

    • Keith, thank you for this wonderful first-hand account! Please try to keep a camera handy in case you see it again.It’s great to get some reliable measurements too. I think there are some unusually large birds out there, I just wish we knew more about them! … Susan

  9. I live in the country in central Florida and have seen a bird matching your descriptions. The raptor I saw had a wingspan of about 11 feet and black head with a crest like an Andean condor, yet also had a black neck ruff and white under its wings like a California condor. I believe that it is a hybrid of the two species. It flew around my house several times and then landed on a stop sign across the street. Everyone I have told about the condor does not believe me and thinks that I had seen a turkey vulture. I study raptors and know the differences between TVs (turkey vultures) and condors. This mysterious animal was the biggest flying bird I have ever seen.

    • Thank you for sharing your sighting! Until recently I lived in Gainesville – how far are you from there? You can email me at cryptoville@hotmail.com. I’d love to hear of anymore sightings that you have especially as you study raptors in particular. Keep your camera handy! 🙂 … Susan

  10. Here we go again Cryptoville and just a little over a year after I reported the huge lack bird flying over my pasture. I told you about the friend who thought they saw a bald eagle land on my county road. That same guy Dustin is a deer Hunter and he has seen the giant bird fly from an area called Godwin Point near where I live on a farm. I asked him how big it was and he could not estimate but said it was huge, bigger than any bird he has ever seen. I asked him about the markings on it and he stated that it has round white dots on his chest area. He said that both times he has seen it (5 months ago and then about 2 days ago) it was traveling in southerly direction right toward my farm, he said it flew over my farm and then continued south until it was out of sight. I ask him if it were soaring or was it flying by flapping its wings…..HE said it was flapping its wings, possibly flying into a northerly headwind. I told Dustin that I was disappointed that I did not see it and told him to take his digital camera with him while on his deer hunts. I told him that if he could get a photo of it that he might just become famous since every birdwatcher in America would be down in Alabama searching for a huge black bird.
    Another unusual event happened a couple of weeks ago within 1/2 mile of our farm. A neighbor named Donna told me that she saw a mountain lion walking along a county road just across from a goat pasture. She said it was long and tan and appeared to be very thin.
    Guess we’d better keep our cameras ready. I’ll try to keep you updated if we see or hear about anything unusual out here in North Alabama. Bill S.

    • Thank you for sharing this very interesting account with us Bill. I’d be delighted to see ANY kind of photo of this bird. I feel hunters are good observers of the environment & if he said it was big, it must have been big. Looking forward to your next installment! Merry Christmas! … Susan (CryptoVille)

      • Thanks Susan, I’ll keep you posted on any further sightings. I definitely need to be checking the sky constantly around here.

        • my daughter in Detroit Michigan came home and said she saw a big blackbird it was making a sound like a crow.she never saw a bird that big before.its wings span wasn’t very long

          • Anna, I live on a farm in North Alabama and two if my neighbors have seen this huge blank bird in the last month. One if them has seen it 3 times in the last year. They spotted it around sunset on a big hunting club at Godwin’s Point. We plan on going out there in the evening occasionally to see if we can spot it again and possibly get a photo of it. Can your daughter describe how wide it’s wingspan was and whether it had any markings such as a white ring around the neck?

  11. One spring morning i was setting on the front steps my husband was in the driveway there was a shadow so big came over us it made us look up it was a giant black bird flying pretty low we grab the field glass and watch it fly over the open field in front of our house until it was out of sight we got a good look at it it was black it’s head was black it’s​ wings looked strange the way they moved I guess that’s because it was so big. We live in Huffman Arkansas Mississippi river runs behind our house that’s​ the way it came from scene then we have seen one two more times it’s always in the spring and always going the same way West.

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