The Davenport Devil: ‘Thunderbird’ or ‘Mothman’?


Some spectacular stories take decades to come to light. It has taken over three decades for Robert Anderson, a 41-year-old carpenter/painter, to finally reach the point in his life where he feels comfortable and secure enough to share with the world, irregardless of the many skeptics’ opinions, an anomalous event from his youth. I will allow Anderson to tell the tale in his own words:

“It was the year 1975. I was living in Davenport, Iowa in a small trailer park. One day during August, my brother, a friend and I were playing and heard this very loud howling, so we ran in that direction to see what was going on. We rounded a trailer and witnessed a 75-pound doberman rolling on its back, clawing with its feet and letting out a very loud sustained howl as if it had just been attacked. Now, we knew this dog and it had a very mean temperament. We all knew to stay away from it, which wasn’t too hard to do considering it was secured with a very large logging chain. Now this is where the story gets unbelievable. What I saw next I will never forget. Whatever it was, we must have startled it, as a blur of motion drew our attentions to the roof of the nearby trailer. Atop this trailer now stood a bird over six feet tall. It was grey and had a strange monkey-looking face, but possessed a hooked-beak nose. Its eyes glowed red and were like large saucers. Well, we were rooted and this bird thing did not seem very happy as it stared at us with a malevolent, baleful glare from those glowing red eyes that seemed to brighten by the second. For some reason I shouted, ‘Don’t look at it!’ I looked away, but my brother and friend did not. It was one of those moments when just a few seconds seem to last an eternity. Eventually the creature apparently released my brother and friend from its gaze and launched itself into the air with a loud whoosh and a very noticable disturbance of air. It let out a squawking sound that almost seemed unreal. It circled once and then was gone.

“We ran home quickly, hysterically screaming to our mothers about a giant bird. We were of course met with great skepticism and told to quit making up stories. Regardless, we hid in the house the rest of the day. In time, my brother and my friend seemed to come down with what appeared to be conjunctivitis; I did too, but to a lesser degree. I can’t help but believe this was due to the fact that I looked away from those red eyes sooner.

“These events were quickly overshadowed by real life events: we were in a new school year, seemingly unaware events of only a few short weeks prior. Then one day, as I walked home from school, I walked past that doberman and realized I was about to be attacked by this very large, vicious dog. I did not look back and just ran for my life until I felt I had reached the chain’s limit and slowed down to look back. There was the dog laying on its dog house completely oblivious to my intrusion, dead to the world in my opinion. I thought this very strange and started thinking back. This forced me to remember the day I saw the bird creature. I honestly wouldn’t have remembered it except for that dog, and that dog probably would not have survived had us children not arrived…ironic. My brother has no memories of these events and the friend has been lost to me to the sands of time. After several months, the dog became more like its old self, terrorizing any children passing too close.

“What was it? A giant bird? I don’t know, but it seemed more like a spiritual entity or even an alien in some form of tricked-out suit going around scooping up animals and small children, unless they are secured with heavy logging chains or in my case, the blood of Christ. Why do I offer this? Well, maybe its one more piece of the puzzle to someone else.”

This was 1975 — a time sandwiched between the famous giant bird sightings of Illinois in 1977 ( (Davenport IA is on the Illinois/Iowa border) and the newly revealed sightings in 1973 in western Illiniois ( Only to me, Anderson’s encounter reminds me far more of the numerous tales of a supernatural entity often referred to as the Mothman ( Hollywood and numerous authors have tackled this subject, but as I do not consider myself an expert on it, I will refrain from classifying the sighting. I will just agree with Mr. Anderson and hope that his frightening experience does add an extra piece to someone’s work-in-progress puzzle.