, , ,


Debunking Mothman: Not a Greater Sandhill Crane

This summer I’m heading to West Virginia. In between visiting the family church and cemetery while gathering genealogy information, I’ll be stopping in on some special paranormal destinations. Two are related to Mothman: The Mothman Museum and The McClintic Wildlife Management Area. In doing some preliminary research, I am debunking some of the explanations. Consider it debunking the debunked. In this first installment, Mothman was not a Greater Sandhill Crane.


Mothman was a paranormal event that lasted 13 months, from November 15, 1966-December 15, 1967. Over that span, numerous witnesses in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, reported seeing a 7-foot tall creature with glowing red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan. Some of the sightings coincided with U.F.O. sightings and talks about visits from the “Men in Black.” All sightings ceased the day after the December 15, 1967, Silver Bridge collapse, killing 46 people. Several theories have been proffered over the years. An early one was that people saw wayward Greater Sandhill Cranes.


The Greater Sandhill Crane is the larger form of Sandhill Crane species. They are tall grey birds. Adults have red markings on the head. They are between 3-5 feet in height, weighing 6.5-14 pounds. They “form large flocks” and are migratory. Although they can be found in the Northern United States, they migrate to the Southern US and Mexico during the winter months. The Greater Sandhill Crane was previously spotted within the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, where the first Mothman sighting occurred. However, these people did not mistake a crane for the creature.

There are several reasons as to why the bird was not Mothman. The Greater Sandhill Crane does not have red eyes, a key feature to the witness reports. Further, the bird is too small. Witnesses stated that Mothman was 7-feet tall. That is 2 feet taller than the largest Greater Sandhill Crane. Not one witness reported seeing multiple Mothmen—only the solitary Mothman. The birds live in groups. A wayward single bird may be spotted once, maybe twice, however, not for 13 months. Finally, Greater Sandhill Cranes migrate to warmer climates during the winter. The average temperature in November in Point Pleasant is 14°F. December’s average is 9°F, with January at -2°F, February -4°F, and March rising to 9°F. It’s just too cold in West Virginia for these birds to remain throughout the winter.

In this segment of “Debunking the Debunked,” I believe that Mothman could not have been a Greater Sandhill Crane. More soon.