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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.


Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

On January 21, 1909, in the evening, in Salem, New Jersey, USA, a police officer allegedly spotted a "devil bird" with one foot like a horse's, the other like a mule's, a horn on its head, and an ostrich's tail. It was allegedly 11 feet long.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001471
Date of event: January 21, 1909
Earliest report of event: 1909?
Delay of report: Day, days, weeks?
Witness reported via: Not known.
First alleged record by: Not known. Newspaper?
First certain record by: Fortean book Jerome Clark.
First alleged record type: Not known. Newspaper?
First certain record type: Fortean book.
This file created on: April 10, 2013
This file last updated on: April 10, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: New Jersey
Type of location: Not reported
Lighting conditions: Not reported. Evening.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: 1
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adult.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Police officer.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Bird
Entities height: 3.3 meters
Entities outfit type: Not reported or none.
Entities outfit color: Not reported or N/A.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported. An ostrich tail.
Entities head: Not reported. Devil bird. A horn on the head.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: One foot like a horse's, the other like a mule's.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: Not reported.
Entities actions: Not reported.
Entities/witness interactions: Not reported.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Probable confusion, bird, sandhill crane. Not UFO-related.
Explanation certainty: Medium.


[Ref. jc1:] JEROME CLARK:

Jerome Clark says on January 21, 1909, in the evening in Salem, a police officer spotted a "devil bird" with one foot like a horse's, the other like a mule's, a horn on its head, and an ostrich's tail. It was 11 feet long.


Albert Rosales indicates that in Salem, New Jersey, on January 21, 1907, in the evening, "A local police officer spotted a 'devil bird' with one foot like a horse’s the other like a mule’s. It had a horn on its head and an ostrich’s tail, and it was eleven feet long."

Albert Rosales indicates that the source is "Jerome Clark, Unexplained!".

Points to consider:

Before discussing this particular case, I must make some general remarks about what was called the "Jersey Devil".

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, for nearly two centuries at least, some people give reports of encounters with a "creature" whose descriptions suggested that it was some sort of "devil", though in my opinion it was often merely a large bird in migration there, the sandhill crane.

Ufologically, these stories are mostly not considered as related in any way with UFOs or UFO occupants, in my opinion too they should not be part of a catalog of "close encounters of the third kind".

However, some ufologists included such stories in such catalogs, thinking for some reason it does have something to do with the UFO question. Most of the time, they do not include all the Jersey Devil reports, but only a few of them, maybe due to lack of documentation or maybe for some other reason I do not understand.

So I have to include all these stories, because if some source considers, rightly or wrongly, that this a UFO-related, then it is within my scope, not to immediately and arbitrarily disregard their idea, but to evaluate it, and thus to collect the documentation and the comments about it. And therefore, I have to check and document all reported, not just those selected arbitrarily by these ufologists who believed this is UFO material. This is why you cans see I have a file for each Jersey Devil reports, even those that were never included in the ufology literature.

I should note that most stories are fragmentary, often because the sources write about several observations, and what is said about one report is supposed to be implicitly true for the others. I do not do it that way; I publish case files individually and discuss each on its own merits or issues, and offer a specific assessment for each case. But of course, generalities can be said on these reports. As I do not want to disconnect individual reports from these generalities, I make the following notes.

I want to first list the various explanations offered for the "Jersey Devil" - they could apply its late equivalent the West Virginia "Mothman" which was introduced in UFO books the 1960s:

Now let's see this report.

We have a bird here, although the description of the feet is quite uncanny. Of course, it could have been purely made up, or maybe it really was a bird, a big one such as the sandhill crane. No UFO, no aliens, nothing evil, nothing "paranormal" whatsoever. Nothing that could kill the idea that this man may have seen from a distance, in poor conditions, a sandhill crane, the numerous "Jersey Devil" reports at the time having excited his imagination. Maybe the man had a poor eyesight, or didn't put his glasses on? And was this by day or night?

Maybe a sandhill crane was looking up and its long beak was thought to be a horn.

There is not enough information to make one or the other explanation a certainty, but there is not a single piece of information that would support he saw a real devil, or an alien, or a pterodactyl, "Bigfoot" or anything extraordinary.

"Sandhill Crane" (Grus canadensis) - pictures above - is a species of big crane living in North America, Canada, and in the extreme northeast of Siberia. Some are resident, some are migratory, passing sometimes indeed by the states where the "Jersey Devil" was reported.

Its wingspan can reach more than 2 meters.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Primary source not available and not known. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Case with low strangeness. Help needed. Opened.
3 Ufology Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Lack of description: size, color, sighting conditions, distance... Help needed. Opened.
4 Ufology Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Single witness case. Help needed. Opened.
5 Ufology Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No sign of investigation or checking. Help needed. Opened.
6 Ufology Severe April 10, 1909 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Witness not named. Help needed. Opened.


Probable confusion, bird, sandhill crane. Not UFO-related.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:


Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 10, 2013 Creation, [jc1], [ar1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 10, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 10, 2013