Witness Reports 2016 Sighting of 'Prehistoric Bird' in Gary, Indiana

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Lon Strickler of Phantoms & Monsters received an email on January 23rd from a witness who said she had seen a “big, grayish prehistoric bird” in Gary, Indiana.

Sir, I had the experience of seeing this big grayish prehistoric bird. It was 7:40 in the morning on a clear sunny day. I was driving down Broadway in Gary, right across from the gas station right before you get on the exit going I-65 South. I was shocked wondering why no one else noticed this creature. It didn't have a man face. The beak was pointy, the wings were really long. The wings did not flap. The creature flew low enough for me to just look up, and there it was.

At first I thought that I was crazy, so I waited a couple of days before I told my husband. I don't drink, or do drugs, so I know what I saw.

After a couple of weeks, I saw it again in the same area, but not the same spot. Also this one was the same but smaller. It did not look like a bat, or a owl. So I googled prehistoric birds, and there I saw the best picture to describe what I saw. After that I looked up at the sky often, but hadn't seen it again. I also thought about reporting it, but people of course would think that I was crazy. It came to me that woody, dense areas is where they hide.

Strickler was able to speak to the witness on the telephone.

"I called [the witness] immediately after receiving her email," Strickler said. "She gave me the exact location of the sighting, an area near a gas station that once had a fairly thick grove of trees in the vicinity. The trees have since been cleared. This is in the area of W 37th Ave eastbound between Broadway and I-65."

"This sighting occurred in the late spring or early summer of 2016," he continued. "[The witness] had just taken her children to school and saw the creature on her way home. She stated that the creature was quite large...the body was approximately the length of a van and the wings had a width at least double the length. [She] is positive that this was a Pterosaur-like being, after looking for an example online."

“A few days later, her friend also observed this creature,” Strickler added. “Her husband witnessed a similar creature several weeks later. I'm sure that other residents in the area were aware of the presence of these creatures at the time, but were fearful of reporting their sightings.”

As has been typical in many reported sightings, it was news of similar encounters in the area that led to the witness coming forward.

“[The witness'] husband's friend told him about the recent Gary, Indiana sightings, and she decided to contact me,” said Strickler.

Strickler is considering a number of possibilities to explain the sighting, but so far no explanation is conclusive.

"I'm not discounting that this may have been a remote controlled device," he said. "Though the size and the general socioeconomic area is puzzling, if that is the case. My team is following up on this incident, along with all previous and subsequent encounters."

The Singular Fortean Society was able to arrange a phone interview with the witness, who confirmed her earlier report provided to Phantoms & Monsters.

She described the creature in the first sighting as being as “long as a minivan,” while the smaller creature she saw the second time was closer in size to a car.

Some pterosaurs were of a size unheard of in modern avian species, with the North American Quetzalcoatlus being the largest known to science, having a wingspan in excess of 30’.

The being was gray in color, with a crest on top of its head, a thin, featherless body, and membranous wings, according to the witness.

Many pterosaurs were ‘feathered’ with hair-like filaments known as pycnofibers, which covered their bodies and part of their wings—something that might not be easily discernible to a witness seeing one in flight.

A sketch of the creature provided by the witness.

A sketch of the creature provided by the witness.

When asked about the possibility of the creature being a member of a large migratory species such as a crane or heron, the witness insisted that it was not.

“This wasn’t a bat or an owl,” she said. “This was no seagull. It was no crane or anything.”

Nor does the witness believe that a timeslip or parallel universe could be to blame. She is certain, based on the images of pterosaurs she found and her own experience, that her sighting represents the survival of some ancient species.

“Something survived, and it’s out there,” she said. “This was too real.”

The location of this sighting is in the middle of the city, about four miles south of Lake Michigan, between the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers. The North Gleason Park Pavilion—through which the Little Calumet River flows—and South Gleason Golf Course provide a modicum of natural cover for animals in the area, and are only around a thousand feet south of where the sighting took place.

Two other sighting reports have come out of Gary recently—one from September 2018 and another from January 2019—although the winged creatures in those cases were much closer in size to modern herons.

This is the latest in a string of flying creature sightings around Lake Michigan that ostensibly began in the spring of 2017, but more historical accounts are being reported as more people become aware of the phenomenon.  Most of the sightings have taken place near the lakefront in Chicago within a few miles of Lake Michigan, although there are some reports coming from the suburbs surrounding Chicago and even farther afield in every state bordering the great lake.  The sightings generally take place in the evening or at night, often in or near a park, and around water.  Witnesses consistently describe a large, bat or bird-like creature—although in a small number of cases the creature was described as insect-like—sometimes with glowing or reflective red, yellow, or orange eyes; and humanoid features such as arms and legs are often reported.  Many of the sightings are also of something seen only briefly or are described only as a flying creature with few details, which leaves open the possibility that a large bird or bird-like being could explain some encounters. 

To report a sighting reach out to us directly at The Singular Fortean Society through our contact page.

You can view a timeline of the sightings so far here, and an interactive map here.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support the Singular Fortean Society, please consider becoming an official member by signing up through our Patreon page—membership includes a ton of extra content and behind-the-scenes access to the Society’s inner workings.

Tobias WaylandComment