19 December 2013

Singular Mystery Bird of Southern Illinois

On Sunday of last week a novelty in the bird line was killed in Illinois, opposite Mound City by a man named Harney, of that city. The Cairo Democrat says: It is larger than the ostrich, and weighs one hundred and four pounds. The body of this wonderful bird is covered with snow white down, and its head is of a fiery red. The wings, of deep black, measure fifteen feet from tip to tip, and the bill, of a yellow color, twenty-four inches. Its legs are slender and sinewy, pea green in color, and measure forty-eight inches in length. One of the feet resembles that of a duck, and the other that of a turkey. Mr. Harney shot it at a distance of one hundred yards, from the topmost branch of a dead tree, where it was perched, preying upon a full sized sheep that it had carried from the ground.

This strange species of bird, which is said to have existed extensively during the days of the mastodon, is almost entirely extinct — the lasts one having been seen in the State of New York during the year 1812. Potter has it on exhibition in his office at Mound City. Its flight across the town and river was witnessed by hundreds of citizens.

September 7, 1868. A singular bird. Reading Daily Eagle 1(191): 1. From the Cairo Democrat.

Details on this report were also given in "Myths and Mysteries of Illinois: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained" by Richard Moreno. The name given in that article was James Henry, and indicated the bird was killed on September 22, 1868. This source says the bird was killed by Cairo, according to the details attributed to research by Mark Hall, author of "Thunderbirds: America's Living Legends of Giant Birds."

At least the Reading eagle reissued the article, since there is no known online source for the Cairo Democrat, where the article was initially published.

This is an interesting bit of a story associated with bird history, and it was posted simply to convey this aspect for it is certainly unique, historic folklore.

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