DADEVILLE, Ala. — A 53-year-old man says he and another person witnessed an “ungodly huge black bird” flying over their heads while boating in an Alabama lake.
Eclectic resident Jeff Wallace, who works as an engineers assistant, told Cryptozoology News that he was at Martin Lake Reservoir on a “midnight boat ride” with his family, mostly children, when they spotted the feathered creature at about 10 p.m. in July of 1998.
“I was running about 20 mph and this thing was gliding overhead and looking down into the boat,” Wallace said. “This incredibly large bird was gliding above our boat and keeping pace in a glide. As I was looking up at it, I saw its head moving, as if taking stock of the contents of the boat. My daughter’s boyfriend Bo Dreher eventually noticed me looking upward and looked up to see what I was entranced about, he looked just in time to see the bird flair its wingtips and disappear into the dark night sky. We were the only two in the boat that even noticed it.”
The boat, Wallace said, was about 19 feet long and the alleged bird was “almost as big”.
“It had a wingspan three to four times as wide as our boat. It was jet black, darker than the night sky. Its wings were flat across the tips as it glided, but flared out as it turned and flew off and upward to the South. The estimated wingspan would be about 20 to 30 feet. The birds body shape was that of a raven or crow, but extremely large. It had finger-like feathers.”
The man states that the sighting didn’t last longer than 10 or 15 seconds.
He believes that what they saw that night was an Argentavis magnificens, also known as Terrator and believed to be extinct. Remains of this bird, which lived in Argentina about 6 million years ago, were found by curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Kenneth Campbell.
“After doing a little research, I found this. This is what we saw that night,” Wallace explained.
Wallace believes that the animal was looking down at them from about 12 feet above the boat, and that it could have easily carried one of the smaller children away.
“Not me,… and still fly, anyway. I would have been quite a load for this bird, even back then.”
The man, a Florida native, says that the sighting was “earth shattering” and that it changed his “whole view of the world” and that he was not under the influence of any substance.
“Definitely not. My father didn’t allow drinking at all. No drinking is, was or ever was allowed at his lake house. I had eight to nine children in the boat. I’m sure this thing saw my boat zipping across that dark lake that night and came down to have a look. I’m just glad I wasn’t the only one on board who saw it,” Wallace said. “Seems the more you talk about these things, the more most folks think you’re nut cakes. Could care less who believes me or not.”
In 1927, a similar event took place in the Australian town of Fernvale when a few giant birds visited the area, causing panic among the town’s residents.
Lake Martin is a 44,000-acre lake located in Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties. It is formed by the dam built on the Tallapoosa River. In 2011, an EF4 tornado destroyed life and property across the lake.