Thunderbird Photo: Fact or Urban Legend

This mysterious photo has been circulating around for many years and known as the "Thunderbird" photo.  It shows and odd looking creature captured by a group of men near Tombstone, AZ.  Is the creature real or just another urban legend told by generation after generation?

In April of 1890, two cowboys noticed an immense flying creature while walking around in the deserts of Arizona.  The creature's body was about 92 feet long and was smooth like a serpent.  It had huge wings, about a 160 foot wingspan, featherless and resembling bat's wings.  It also had two clawed feet, with a face of an alligator.  They followed it on horseback until the horses were too afraid to continue, and then chased it on foot.  It kept landing and taking off until the cowboys shot it full of bullets with their riffles, and finally killed it.  Then the cowboys cut off a piece of the wing and brought it to Tombstone. 

The story was presumed to be written in a April 1892 issue of the Tombstone newspaper, the Epitaph.  It was also told that a photo of an enormous bird was seen nailed to a wall in the office.  Since many tall tales have been spun in newspaper during this distinctive time in history, it's hard to say whether it is a true story or just a folklore.  Employees working for the Epitaph searched through many old issues of the newspaper and found no such photo.

The question still remains, is the photo real?    Many have remember seeing the elusive "Thunderbird" photo but no one seems to know where it is.  Many feel the photo I have posted above has been tampered with and the dead creature was added in.  Also, according to the stories told, two men supposed to have found and killed the bird-like creature, but six men are in the picture.  Who are the other men?  There is lots of mystery surrounding the photo, its existence and the whereabouts, and the strange story which goes with it.

If you have heard of this story and know more about it, I would love to hear it.


  1. that is really cool and very interesting... for me being the photoshop freak... i see a certain level of manipulated image...


  2. Fred Flintstone is not going to be happy about his missing Tweety. On the other hand, buffalo wings tonight, boys!

  3. iZombie--I have wondered if the dead bird-like creature was added in later. The photo is a mystery and I am sure someone has the answers.

    ABftS--haha! I wouldn't want to get Fred mad. He has a dino-sized temper. All though the large buffalo wings should make him forgive and forget about his dead Tweety.

  4. This is an interesting mystery. The picture does look a little fake to me, but who knows?

  5. Haha. I have a post on the T-bird in my queue in a few weeks. We think alike! I love this legend. We've seen some weird stuff in the desert. I want to see a T-bird!

  6. Interesting...I've never heard of that before.

  7. I'm not familiar with this creature. I'm having a little trouble figuring out what I'm looking at here. At first I thought they were standing around a boat! :)

  8. Jessica--I have to agree. There is something weird about the picture but I love a mystery.

    Sis--Haha, great minds do think alike. I want a 1955 T-Bird with round windows.

    Lemons--I try and find the bizarre stuff especially if it involves AZ.

    Justine--LOL, it does look like a boat.

  9. First time I hear about this but looks fake to me.

  10. Looks like a newer version of the old FreakyLinks thunderbird photo (a 'shopped image created as part of a fake website to promote a Fox TV show that flopped in 2000/2001--I remember the ads from my misspent adolescence, which makes me officially older than dirt). I'm pretty sure I saw the FreakyLinks version back in the day, shown to me by an excited schoolmate. We didn't buy it then, and I don't now.

    The FreakyLinks page has been preserved here:

    It wouldn't surprise me if the FreakyLinks folks had made multiple images as part of the promo, or if someone else was inspired by a pretty dumb show (or the X-Files, or something similar) to create their own hoax. I'm always amused by the fact that this photo and the FreakyLinks edition are so often paired with the cowboy story ... and nobody ever seems to notice that the guys with the creature aren't cowboys, unless they all kept their uniforms from their Civil War/U.S. Cavalry days.

    I'm rather sorry FreakyLinks wasn't a better show, for all the trouble it's caused the cryptozoology world.


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