—Creation Cryptids: Mothman
The Mothman of Point[less] Pleasant, West Virginia, is sort of a weird cousin of mine. That is, one legend has it that the Mothman was spawned by the curse that Chief Cornstalk placed upon Point Pleasant as the white men he was trying to save betrayed and then murdered him [and his son]. And I’m distantly related to Chief Cornstalk, so there you go.
Now, a lot of misinformation has spread about what really occurred, thanks in no small part to a horribly inaccurate movie called The Mothman Prophecies  starring [ech!] Richard friggin Gere. The movie was based on an equally preposterous book  of the same title by author, parapscychologist, Fortean nutjob and all around opportunist John Keel. Keel wove a tale of outsider forces trying to warn a small West Virginia town of impending disaster, because, ya know, those alien outsider minds care about small hick towns, y’all.
The facts of the case, in brief, are thus:
On November 15, 1966, two young couples went to the TNT area of Point Pleasant [a common haunt for young drinkers], saw something and got spooked. They described the creature as the size of a man, with huge red eyes and wings folded against its back. Despite fleeing at about 100 miles per hour in a sheer panic, they say that the creature was able to pursue them. They reported the details of the incident to the authorities. The Mothman [originally called the “Big Bird”] was sighted off and on over the next 13 months, ending with the collapse of the Silver Bridge. In the meantime, it was given media attention and attracted the likes of UFOlogist Gray Barker [responsible for the Men in Black concept] and aforementioned Fortean imagineer John Alva Keel.
Conservative theories have suggested that it might have been a misidentified sandhill crane or an owl whose eyes were reflecting in the light of the moon, flashlights, headlights, et cetera. I lean toward the latter theory. The following explains why.
MothmanLives.com [a true believer site] has this to say about eyewitness accounts of the creature:
According to eyewitness accounts, Mothman stood much taller than an average man, at 7 feet tall, perhaps 8 feet. Its most prominent features were the massive wings spanning 10 feet across. Some accounts stated that small patches of feathers were spotted on the body and wings, some said the wings were featherless. Even more unusual were the huge, red, glowing eyes on the generally featureless face. Some eyewitnesses were unable to recall seeing a head; these reports stated the eyes were actually in the shoulder area where a neck and head “should” be. Few, if any, could remember details about the presence or type of feet the creature possessed.
Eyewitnesses alleged that Mothman could fly without flapping its wings, and could match the speed of an automobile trying to flee at 100 miles an hour. The creature never seemed to flap its wings when rising from the ground — it evidently was able to rise and float above the earth’s surface with little or no effort, not making any sound or noise.nd M+DG. All rights reserved.
Here is an eyewitness’ sketch of the creature.
You’ll note that it looks a bit like a shadowy image of a big owl [perhaps a great horned owl] in a threat posture.
Given the fact that the incidents stopped when the tragedy of the December 15, 1967 Silver Bridge collapse occurred and hype gave way to horror, it seems safe to presume that the Mothman was born of mass hysteria driven by media attention. When a real horror reared its head, the citizens of Point Pleasant had no more stomache for fireside tales and other distractions. Reality steamrolled over their infatuation with fame and ghost tales.
Today it serves as a cautionary tale for cryptid hunters, though an imaginative statue of the creature and an annual Mothman Festival keep the legend alive. Most UFO enthusiasts try to link the Mothman with the Green Monster of Flatwoods, WV [an alleged alien encounter]. The festival is populated predominantly with occult and New Age supernaturalists, parapsychologists and UFO nuts.
Though legends of Bird Men abound, cryptozoologists might well keep in mind this farce in their investigations. When hysteria, bits of pocket fame and misidentified animals combine, false cryptids emerge.