We usually assume birds are fragile yet graceful creatures; humble in flight and winsome. There were birds that were the exact opposite and would pepper the land with thunderbolts and brought storms in its wake. These towering birds were praised by North American tribes and carvings exist today and are known as Thunderbirds but the descriptions vary between tribes. The Hareskin tribe claimed lighting would lash at the Earth when the Thunderbirds shook their tails and piercing flashes were in their eyes. A belief also attributed to the Indians comes from a stone carving of a Thunderbird. According to the Indians, shaking the carving will provoke the ire of a Thunderbird and cause storms. The Dakotas claimed that mature Thunderbirds caused lightning and storms but were careful with their power so they wouldn’t injure the Indians but the young Thunderbirds caused trouble and assaulted the Earth with lightning. The appearance of a Thunderbird is largely different on the North-West coast. According to the tribes there, Thunderbirds had an extra head on its belly and was powerful and monstrous enough to heave whales out of the ocean. This claim gives a general image about the size of Thunderbirds and their power. One tale describes two hunters coming across a lake only to be astonished that a colossal bird with two heads soared out of the water, let out a tremendous, earsplitting roar and then submerged.
The stories about Thunderbirds do not end in North America. Tales of Thunderbirds circle West Africa about a god that flapped his wings and struck the Earth with lightning from dark clouds. In Bantu Tribal culture however, instead of birds causing lightning they stopped lightning. Tribal men would place an image of a bird outside of their homes to protect themselves from the vicious lightning. In the southern areas of Africa there are claims that a man struck by lightning is actually lacerated by the talons of a bird because lightning there are actually birds. The Luyia of Kenya have stated that a titanic bird lives in the mountains and strikes the Earth with his lightning and the deafening thunder is just him crowing.