The Owlman

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Listen, I love owls. I mean, I’m essentially a sociologist and I’m an armchair folklorist so I try to be at least marginally serious when I write about a legend, but man. I really love owls.

I’m much more supportive of the owlman than I am the mothman. I still find the mothman boring. I’m sorry, I know that it’s not a popular position. But there you go.

I’m totally pulling this one out of the air but I think that people like cryptids because as much as we like to pretend that we’re logical people, we need something mysterious in our lives. We need to think that there are things out that we still haven’t found yet. Knowing that we’ve pretty much hit the wall with the stuff in our immediate area sort of takes the fun out of life-what’s there left to look for when we’ve seen it all?

The owlman, obviously.

The owlman doesn’t have the best of beginnings. The story begins with Tony Shiels being approached by a man named Don Melling who had been in the Lancaster, England area in April, 1976. As a complete aside. this is the third or fourth legend that I’ve covered that was set in April. What is up with the month of April? Anyway, Melling claimed that his daughters June and Vicki were walking near Mawnan when they saw a large something floating in the vicinity of the church tower.
Obviously, the girls were not impressed by seeing something hanging out in the sky and went and told their father. Melling stated to Doc Sheils, a paranormal researcher, that the family was so shaken they went home three days early. There were no other witnesses, he would not allow his family to be interviewed, and his only early documentation was a letter written to someone other than Sheils. The girls, however, conveniently provided a sketch. This information would be published by Anthony Mawnan-Peller later in 1976.

In July of the same year, Sally Chapman, aged 14 was camping with a friend near the same church. Chapman claims that she heard a hissing sound and witnessed something that looked like a human sized owl with pointy ears and red eyes. The creature became airborne. This would not be the last time the figure would be spotted in the same area, with sightings reported the next day and two months in 1978. There would be at least two reported sightings in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.

Here’s my issue with the giant bird, and to be fair, I’m not the first person to have pointed them out. The point at which they’re discussed on Wiki is the point at which they’re not new theories.

1. You have no other original witnesses other than Melling, who conveniently told a researcher first. Wiki suggests that Sheils was known for his habit of hoaxing cases. There is very little to no evidence other than what was provided, and Melling didn’t allow the actual witnesses to be interviewed. Further, they left the area really quickly after the supposed encounter. None of this actually shows that something is off with the case, but it does suggest that there are potential holes with the story. Many, many holes. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that what was seen, if anything was seen, was an owlman. There have been plenty of cases where, I’m sorry to use an overused trope, it really was a weather balloon.

2. The subsequent sightings were primarily reported by people who already knew the story. There’s a strong potential for either seeing what you want to see-or seeing what you think other people want you to see and making sure to talk about it after the fact.

Like most if not all of sightings based encounters, we may never actually know what the reality of the owlman is. I’m fairly certain that it’s not some god flapping around England like some pop cultural sources have turned the legend into.

The Owlman

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