Birdzilla "American Indian Thunderbird"
Like the modern-day vulture, the primary source of food for the giant bird is carrion (dead deer, horses, sheep and rabbits). The long, narrow hooked beak in the giant bird fossils found imply the ability to grab small animals and swallow them whole.
Sightings have been reported in the United States in Illinois, Texas and Alaska; the skeleton of a giant bird dubbed Argentavis Magnificens was recovered in La Pampa, Argentina in 1980.
A 17th century account described an eight-foot-tall bird with jet black feathers, powerful hind limbs and sharp talons, while more recent sightings describe dark-feathered creatures with wingspans of some 15-20 feet.
With their long, hooked beaks, giant birds resemble eagles, condors, vultures and other predatory birds, but they dwarf them in size. The Andean Condor of South America, for example, has a wingspan of some 10 feet; the California Condor is smaller, with a nine-foot wingspan.
Legends of so-called thunderbirds can be found throughout Native American folklore and tradition, including accounts of both helpful and dangerous thunderbirds. In the 1970s, a number of giant bird sightings were reported in Illinois, Alaska and Texas; one was even captured on film in 1977 in Illinois.
MOST RECENT SIGHTING
A flood of sightings of "super-sized" birds in southeastern Alaska in 2002 included the account of a commercial pilot who described a bird flying alongside him with what he claimed was a 14-foot wingspan, similar to that of his Cessna plane.
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