The month of January marks the anniversary of one of the strangest creature sagas in the history of Texas that of Big Bird. We’re not talking about Sesame Street here folks. During the year of the nation’s bicentennial, some 36 years ago, dozens of citizens from San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley reported sightings of an enormous, man-sized bird that was seen soaring through the skies and in some cases, accosting those who were unlucky enough to be in its path.
It all started near the end of 1975 when two police deputies from Harlingen had an early-morning encounter with a bird with a 10-foot wingspan gliding over their patrol cars. This was quickly explained away as a simple misidentification of a large pelican. But on New Year’s Day, two teenage girls named Tracy Lawson and Jackie Davies stated they observed a scary, five-foot-tall bird leering at them in their yard as they played. Their parents discovered some enormous, three-toed tracks the next day that were featured on a local news broadcast. Hysteria soon erupted.
On January 7, a Brownsville man named Alverco Guajardo heard something slam into his trailer home and when he went out to confront the culprit, he claimed that he stood face to face with “A bird, but not a bird like something from another planet!” One week later, Raymondville resident Armando Grimaldo experienced the most terrifying encounter to date, when he was sitting outside smoking a cigarette one evening. Suddenly, Grimaldo heard the sound of great, flapping wings and was attacked from above by a beast that scratched at him, ripping his clothes. He was later transported to the Willacy County Hospital in a state of shock.
Other notable reports include that of two sisters who spotted Big Bird at a watering hole in Brownsville on the 18th, as well as two soldiers who had a sighting on a ranch near Poteet the same day. At one point, the fervor was so great that everyone from local radio station owners to oil tycoons were offering a substantial reward for the capture of the avian monster. Then as suddenly as the Big Bird had appeared, it seemingly vanished. Perhaps returning to its native habitat in some remote area. It’s worth noting that I still receive reports of humongous birds from around the Lone Star State on occasion; perhaps indicating that there is something quite extraordinary flying around out there somewhere still.
Have any readers seen anything that resembles a gigantic bird?
For more information, check out my book, "Big Bird: Modern Sitings of Flying Monsters."
— Ken Gerhard