Our Top 10 Favorite Flying Cryptids from Around the World

an illustration of a large bat from Brehm's Life of Animals

Cryptozoology is the study of animals or creatures (often called cryptids) whose existence cannot be confirmed or denied by science. Sometimes these flying cryptids are animals that once existed but are now thought to be extinct. Other cryptids are animals that many have reported encountering, but there is little to no scientific evidence backing their existence.

In some cryptid cases, more mundane things are used to explain the encounters. For example, some believe that the sightings of the cryptid known as the Chupacabra are nothing more than a dog with mange. Another example is the belief of one ornithologist that the famous cryptid known as the Mothman is actually a (possibly mutated) sandhill crane. 

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In recent years there has been a lot of buzz around the cryptid world of the return of the previously mentioned Mothman. Only this time, he’s not in West Virginia but up close to Northern Illinois in the Chicago area. There have been various reports of what many now call the Chicago Mothman since it’s peak popularity began in 2017.  One paranormal researcher has even penned a book on the phenomena as more and more sightings pop up from the area. 

With the Chicago Mothman sightings being a hot topic in the cryptid world I thought it would be a great time for our first #ForteanFriday of the year to take a look at other common winged cryptids and bird-like beasts. 

Our Top Ten Favorite Flying Cryptids 

From gigantic birds to strange flying men these cryptids are our favorite flying beasts from around the world. 

Basan Illustration By Takehara Shunsen (竹原春泉)

Basan ( aka Basabasa)

This cryptid, sometimes called a “fire rooster” is essentially a giant fire-breathing chicken from Japanese folklore. It was said that when the wings of the large bird flapped it would make a sound similar to “basabasa”, which is believed to be the origins of the name of the strange beast. 

The fire that comes from the mouth of the Basan is said to be a “ghost fire” that feels cold and does not burn those around it. 

The Basan lives in the bamboo forests of the Iyo province ( modern-day Ehime Prefecture) but would disappear whenever anyone heard the sound of its wings and went outside to investigate. 

Owlman

A cryptid quite similar to the Mothman, the Owlman is a half-man, half-bird that resides in Cornwall, England. According to the legends of the avian humanoid, it was first spotted by two young girls by St. Joseph’s church in Manawan in 1976. 

Reports claim that the creature looked like an owl but was the size of a man. It is said to have glowing eyes and large black pincer-like claws. Others report not seeing the creature but rather hearing a “loud owl-like sound”.

Some believe that the creature can be explained simply by the fact that owls often enjoy roosting in church towers, and that the beast the girls witnessed was nothing more than a normal-sized owl.

Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is a creature of Native American (Algonquian, Menominee, Ojibwe, and Winnebago) legends. The story of the Thunderbird varies from one tradition to the next but the idea that many cryptid researchers seem to identify the animal with is that it is a watchman of the upper world on Earth. The Thunderbird is often thought to be a guardian of a particular area.

One of the first and most popular sightings of the Thunderbird comes from as early as 1890 when two ranchers report having shot and killed a giant “winged monster”. The story was so popular that it made its way into the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper.

According to the report, the creature had a smooth hairless body, sharp pointy teeth, massive thick but nearly transparent leathery wings, and an elongated pointy tail. Some have postulated that this explanation lends more to a prehistoric pterodactyl than a bird.

Some believe that the Thunderbird could be a different kind of “dinosaur leftover” as the Argentavis. However, Argentavis fossils from the late Miocene have thus far only been found in sites in Argentina, which of course is quite far from the Western United States.

Van Meter Visitor

According to the legend, this monster came to visit the town of Van Meter, Iowa in October of 1903. Many reports were made of sightings of a creature that was described as half-man and half-animal with large batlike wings, fire beams that shot from its forehead, and a particularly foul aroma that followed it as it stalked the town for nearly a week.

Many respected members of the town of Van Meter report having run-ins with the monster. In fact, many claimed to have tried shooting the beast but reported that their bullets seemed to just bounce off of it.

Finally having enough the men of the town chased the creature to an abandoned coal mine where they were met with a second one of the beasts. The men were able to force the creature back down into the coal mine where it reportedly disappeared.

Kansas City Winged Demon

The Kansas City Winged Demon is a slightly smaller creature in comparison with other beasts such as the Thunderbird or the Van Meter Visitor. However, what it may lack in size it makes up for in mystery.

According to legend, the winged cryptid was reported menacing the town of Kansas City, Missouri. It is described as the size of a man with a nearly 12-foot wingspan.

Similar to some Mothman reports, those who have had a sighting of the Kansas City Winged Demon have found the encounter particularly disturbing. In one instance, a girl was so upset by her sighting that she is reported to have passed out on the spot.

The Billdad

A strange chimera of a creature, the Billdad is believed to live around the area of northwestern Maine where it survives by stealing bugs from fish and foraging in the grasses around a local pond.

According to local lumberjacks who consider the creature to be a delicacy (although possibly poisonous), it has the tail of a beaver, the body of a rat, and the beak and wings of a small bird. Although it has short scraggly front legs, it is believed to have powerful kangaroo-like back legs that help propel it through the air in search of insects.

Read More on the Billdad 

Peryton

The Peryton is a creature that comes from Medival legend. It is said to be half deer and half-bird. Accounts of the creature vary between two main depictions. In one, the creature is akin to a centaur with a deer front half and bird-like wings and back half. In the other common depiction, it resembled more of a pegasus with the body of a deer and the wings of a large bird.

Some believe that the Peryton cast a peculiar human-like shadow because they are the spirits of sailors who died far from home.

According to the Book of Imaginary Beings written by Jorge Luis Borges in 1957, the Peryton lived in the fabled city of Atlantis until an earthquake destroyed the lost city. Only the Peryton were able to escape the disaster by flying away from the city.

an illustration of a pterosaur in flight

Ropen

The Ropen is a massive bird-like cryptid that has been reported in and around the island of Papua New Guinea. It is reported to be a featherless flying creature that emits a bright red light from its forehead. Some have postulated that it uses the light to assist in finding food in the waters around the island. Many report that the creature is nocturnal in nature, which may also explain the red light often seen when it is nearby.

The first sighting of the Ropen was in 1935 when respected British Entomologist and traveler Evelyn Cheesman went to Papua New Guinea to investigate the strange flying lights of the island.

Many later expeditions to the island believe that the Ropen is a type of pterosaur that is living on the island. Others believe it may simply be a large bat species that is native to the island.

Viktor A painting of the Russian Gamayun by Viktor Vasnetsov

Gamayum

Somewhat similar to the Kotengu of Japan, the Garayun is a winged bird-like creature with the head of a beautiful woman that is said to live in Russia. The Gamayun is believed to be a holder of great wisdom who lives as a recluse on a small island. It is also believed that this creature is prophetic in nature.

It is said that the beautiful gamayun knows everything there is to know about all of creation.

Space Penguins of Tuscumbia

Technically this creature would be more of an extraterrestrial than a cryptid. They’re such a unique sighting though that I couldn’t not add them to the list! The event that lead tot he Tuscumbia Space Penguin sighting occurred on the morning of Valentine’s Day in 1967 in Tuscumbia, Missouri when farmer Claude Edwards spotted what he believed to be a UFO sitting in one of his fields and several small penguin-like creatures busying themselves beneath it.

The creatures are described as about 3 feet in height with a dingey green coloring. Edwards stated that the penguins appeared to be wearing goggles or to have large black eyes and a dark black beak.

Anurognathus By Dmitry Bogdanov – dmitrchel@mail.ru, GFDL

Read More on Flying Cryptids

There are so many more great flying cryptids out there that we didn’t cover in this article. Many authors in the paranormal field have put together wonderful books on all kinds of cryptid phenomena, including that of flying cryptids.

Be sure to check out these great titles to read more on various kinds of flying cryptid phenomena!

Live Pterosaurs in America

Big Bird! Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters  

Encounters with Flying Humanoids

The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest 

Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds  

Searching for Ropens and Finding God  

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Ten awesome flying cryptids from around the world #paranormal #cryptid #cryptozoology #flyinghumanoid

 

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