Mythical Bird Sighting in Utah
I had just turned a corner when I spotted it walking casually along the side of the road, all by itself. I had never seen anything like it. By size and shape, it resembled a chicken. It walked like one, too. But there was something about this creature–several somethings, actually–that weren’t quite right. It appeared to be covered in fur, not feathers, and had the haggard look of having just showered or been recently shocked by a jolt of electricity. It looked to be wearing puffy leg warmers. It was black from head to foot. And its feet were really big. Upon close inspection, the feet on this beast had 5 or maybe even 6 toes.
What could it be? But for the shaggy hair, I would’ve said it was a chicken. And those 5-6 toed feet were weird. Perhaps it was a mythical bird-like creature here to fulfill its destiny. Native Americans tell of a gigantic Thunderbird, whose flapping wings sounded like thunder and who shot lighting out of its eyes. I couldn’t be sure that this creature had wings, to be honest. It certainly didn’t have wings big enough to create thunder. Greek mythology describes the immortal Phoenix, but this bird didn’t burst into flames. The Egyptians worshipped the Ra, the deity of the sun who had a falcon head, and Thoth, the scribe of the gods who had the head of an ibis. But this little creature had neither such a hear nor the body of a human. There weren’t enough legs for this to be a Griffin. Japanese texts refer to an “eerie bird”, or itsumade, that showed up around corpses. Thankfully, I didn’t see any corpses around. So I snapped a couple of pictures and went to do some research.
It turns out that my black woolly monster is a breed of chicken known as a Black Silkie. They originated somewhere in India maybe, or China, Marco Polo described a “furry chicken” he encountered during his 13th century travels, which seems to be the first historical record. They reportedly have a strong maternal instinct and calm disposition. It’s said that they like to sit in people’s laps. I saw nothing about whether the people liked this trait. This might explain why this bird was so casually walking along the side of the road as I crept by in my car. These birds actually have blackish skin and blackish bones, and you can find a bunch of youtube video online about cooking black silkie chicken (like this one).
Check out the feet. There are at least five, and maybe 6, toes on this freaky foot.
I guess the point is – you never know when you’ll stumble upon some kind of bird the likes of which you have never seen before.