Region of origin: West Virginia
A name coined by investigator and cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall, “Bighoot” is a term for a species or several species of large owls thought to have been encountered in the woods of West Virginia and across the Ohio River valley, in addition to sightings in the American southwest and the Caribbean islands. Some theories state they are surviving members of the species Ornimegalonyx oteroi, an extinct owl species that was indigenous to Cuba that reached heights of three-to-five feet to tall, while more fantastical versions describe Bighoots that are large enough to pick up and fly away with a person, and may have some human-like features (not unlike the Bahamas’ Chickcharney). Owls have often been put forward as possible explanations for cryptid and extraterrestial encounters, and the Bighoot is no exception, being proposed as the possible cryptid behind the cryptid of some of West Virginia’s various paranormal residents, including thunderbirds, the sasquatch-like yayhos and maybe even being at the core of one of the state’s more publicized incidents.
And if I may be indulgent for a moment, if weird owls are your thing, please check out my friend’s animated series, Obsidian National Forest.