In Lincoln County West Virginia, sometime in the year 1896, Elias Midkoff and W. W. Adkins were hunting deer near the mouth of Vanatters Creek, when they saw a very large bird circling high in the sky. As they watched it, It rapidly descended and landed in the water. Adkins fired on it, crippling its wings and waded into the creek to capture it alive. It fought him so furiously, however, that he was forced to kill it in self defense. It took five bullets to end its life.

A Baltimore newspaper, based on a description provided by Midkoff, stated, "The bird is seven, feet four inches from tip to tip, four feet from tip of bill to tip of tail, flat bill four inches long and eight inches wide, somewhat similar to that of a duck; web feet, neck nineteen inches long, and about 1 and a half inches through below the feathers; plumage dark brown, relieved on the wings and breast by light-blue shading.

Midkoff had traveled to Charleston to urge the state historical and Antiquarian Society to dispatch a taxidermist to Hamlin in order to preserve the body of the mysterious bird. Apparently nothing came of the request. And nothing remains of the bird, presumably, if it existed at all. Clearly, from the description of its bill and feet, it was no raptor. Ducks belong to the family Anatidae, with geese and swans. The largest species known to visit West Virginia seasonally s the trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), with a record body length of six feet and a top wingspan of ten feet two inches, but its snow white plumage bears no resemblance to the bird at Vanatters Creek.


Strange West Virginia Monsters by Michael Newton
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