Sunday, October 26 was, to say the least, a blustery day here in central Illinois. In these conditions, sometimes you don't know what will be carried in or out by these currents.
On that evening, I was contacted by Tom Sheets, a long time, avid outdoorsman and a gentleman who has worked as a land surveyor for the past forty years. He related the following sighting to me from earlier that day:
Today, October 26, 2008 at about 1:15 p.m., I was sitting in my pickup at the end of my driveway looking Westward, waiting for traffic to clear. I am located south of Lacon, Illinois on State Route 26. I saw two giant birds that were low over the field directly across from me; they appeared into view from behind a set of low outbuildings, probably 10 to 15 feet above the field. They were being pursued by a hawk, probably a red tail hawk or one of that size. These birds had a wing span of at least 10 feet; at first I thought they were cranes of some type. They were at least five times larger than the hawk. They flew toward the river across a green field of winter wheat; and at the end of the field, about a quarter mile wide, they tried to land in a tree and they flapped about and the hawk was attacking them, then they turned and caught the wind, about 30 mile per hour at this time, and soared up into the sky and went directly over my head. I did get a look at one of their under sides which I noted in my mind. He was marked similar to a turkey vulture; which I see on an everyday basis, but much wider front to back. The marking was the typical wedge shaped marking; however there was a band of grey and or white inside the wedge. Later that afternoon I looked in my bird book and note that it is very similar to a California condor. The wind carried them East over the trees and out of sight. Today was a great day for soaring birds. In the morning, there were hundreds of white pelicans in the air and shortly thereafter, we watched three bald eagles soar from a few hundred feet high above us to reach altitudes so high that they were small specks in the sky.
The avid Fortean biology fan will remember that the 1977 Lawndale giant bird was also, after the primary witnesses, the Lowes. did research at the Lincoln, Illinois library, described as looking identical to a California condor in size, patterning and color. It makes one wonder what ornithological and Fortean wonders might be soaring high over Illinois' river flyways.