big birds

I just received the following note from Natalie.

i feel compelled to share this lyrical passage with you, found in a book from the year 1500 that i’m reading for class. It describes the recreational activity of an exotic bird:

“Of a bird called roc, which is bred in the East Indian Sea, it is said to be of an incredible greatness, that the like hath never been heard of; and that with her beak she will hoist up into the air, not only one man or ten, but a whole ship laden with men and merchandise; and how that these miserable passengers, hanging thus in suspense in the air, till her wings wax weary, she lets them fall, and so they receive their deaths.”

man, were we born at the wrong time, or what? we’ve totally missed out.

i can’t find a good picture of the creature. the image on this page is goofy, but the physical description works:

“A huge bird, with a wingspan of 30 paces that is capable of carrying off an elephant (or a knight on his horse, as pictured above.) It is so large that drinking cups can be made of its nails.”


we’ve also missed the elephant bird, of which there exists solid evidence in the form of gigantic eggs (that can hold up to 2 gallons of liquid) and skeletons. “The flightless bird grew to around ten or eleven feet tall, and is estimated to have weighed up to 1100 pounds.” this thing was still daintily flitting around madagascar in 1700!

do giants remain? where do they hide?
how much liquid could their eggs hold?

As always, I defer to the great Doug Skinner. I have little doubt that he can tell us all about these magnificent birds and where/when they were last seen. He’s always sending me clippings about Skunk Apes and Giant Squids. I bet he’s got a filing cabinet full of giant birds and blurry photos of children being plucked from Latin
American playgrounds by what look to be giant hummingbirds So, how about it, Doug? Where do they hide?

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