UFOlogy has several theories to explain what we see, what we think we see, what some think we think we saw. . . well, you know.
Among them are the theories ("theory" used loosely here to include hypotheses, speculation, and irrational rationalists) that tell us we didn’t really see what we say we saw, we saw something else entirely, we’re just too ignorant to know otherwise. So someone comes along, often years later -- decades later -- after the sighting, and, after a few weak interviews and tromps through the scene of the sighting, offers up an explanation.
One theory is the LBT: luminous bird theory. This is the theory that birds glow, either from reflected light on bird bellies, or glowing The glowing stuff sticks to the feathers of birds that perch in trees, emitting eerie light; that makes the rest of us freak and think "Space aliens! Run for your lives!"
An example of this theory in action is the 1951 "Lubbock Lights" UFO sightings in Lubbock, Texas, explained by some as nothing more than light bouncing off the white bellies of seagulls or plovers.
Probably the most interesting example is that of persistent skeptic Joe Nickell, who has decided that the famous Mothman case (1966, Point Pleasant, West Virginia) was merely a matter of an owl. Others have suggested sand crane, or some other kind of bird, but Nickell has a real thing for owls. He’s also told us that it was an owl that was mistaken for a "monster" or alien in the classic Flatwoods Monster case. (1952, Braxton County, West Virginia) Nickell’s loves owls, it seems, for he’s also solved another case: the famous Kelly-Hopkinsville entity case, where several "aliens" terrorized a Kentucky family back in 1955. Yes, you guessed it: owls, in this case, diminutive owls. But evil terrorizing owls nonetheless.
Nothing so far has surpassed the infamous "swamp gas" theory of vintage UFOlogy, but a few have come close: the "mating hedgehogs" theory is one: that’s the one that explains away crop circles as being caused, not by UFOs, but by horny hedgehogs at the height of mating season. Mating hedgehogs do get crazy; look it up on YouTube. (It’s research, what can I say?) But really. Mating hedgehogs? Creating crop circles? Crop circles? Like this one???!! (see image above.) You really have to ask if these people are conducting some sort of gullibility study on society. or if they aren’t truly pathological after all.
Owls have an interesting history within UFology. They figure in a lot of abduction accounts. Whitley Strieber discusses owls in his writings as well as other UFO researchers. Animals, including owls, sometimes appear to witnesses during, or just before, a UFO event of some kind: an abduction, encounter, sighting. Are the owls and other animals aliens, disguised as animals that are familiar to us? Or are the animals used in some way, or are they images projected into our minds?
In 1976, in Cornwall, the now classic "Owlman" case occurred. This was the sighting of a giant "owl man" type creature that was seen in the area. There are some parallels to the Mothman story here; strange weather related events and highly weird animal behaviors:
The weather unseasonably fluctuated between droughts and floods, heat waves and cold snaps. There were reports of women being tapped in their homes by flocks of birds that beat themselves to death on the windows, and of feral cats that kept one lady incarcerated in her house. There was also an increase in dog attacks, and reports of some dolphins attacking swimmers while others rescued them from drowning. Local farmers reported that cows were being ‘teleported’ out of their fields only to be found in different locations. Added to all this was an increase in the number of UFO sightings, together with reports of cryptids being seen. (Kithra’s Krystal Cave: Cornish Cryptids 2004.)
I’ve just scratched the surface here regarding owls and the paranormal. It’s clear owls have some kind of occult connection with Fortean events, including UFO accounts, and that includes the "scofftoid" theories of owls and other birds to explain these strange occurrences away. In fact, the very theories presented by debunkers, skeptics and the irrational rationalists only add to the Trickster like aspect of the weird; not explain or resolve it.
You can read more Regan Lee at her blogs and on UFO Digest: