Ever since Paul Nation first heard of the legend of the Indava Bird, his passion has been to prove it exists. Some indigenous people of Papua New Guinea believe the bird is a haunting spirit of their ancestors, but persistent reports of physical sightings have sent Nation on a quest into the jungle four times, risking great personal danger. He is planning a fifth expedition in October, 2013. Whether this creature could be a leftover pterosaur surviving in a lost world, its distant cousin, or an exciting new species never found before, he is determined to find what has terrorized the indigenous people there for decades.
“From the natives’ descriptions, we would picture this creature as a modern-day living fossil—incredibly a living pterosaur or new species resembling it,” Nation said. “The indigenous peoples are terrified of this bird and some call it the demon flyer.”
Nation refers to the bird as Indava, which means “bird that flies at night and brings a message of death” in one local language. The name, Ropen, means “demon flyer” on Umboi Island. He has found over six different names for this creature so far, depending upon the tribal area in Papua New Guinea where more than 800 languages are spoken.
One of its reported characteristics is bioluminescence that is bright enough to light the ground surrounding it. Nation has observed eerie bioluminescence on six occasions and caught it on video. Experts analyzed the video and determined that the light was not a campfire or a vehicle headlight. They concluded it was of undetermined origin.
Reports of the Indava Bird describe a large predator with strange characteristics
Eyewitnesses describe this creature as very large, capable of picking up a full-grown man. Estimated wingspan is from 20 to 30 feet. It has a large pointed head crest and three fingers on the wings. They also report that the Indava Bird is similar to a bat with its dark brown color and leathery skin texture, but the bird has a long skinny neck and pointed beak. Some say that it has attacked and killed humans as well as feasted upon buried remains of persons recently deceased.
“One report of this creature particularly amazed us,” Nation said. “Hunters described how this animal lands on a tree trunk and holds on with both feet and both wing fingers. This is very different—something no other bird can do.”
Nation is well-versed in the knowledge and handling of big birds, having raised ostriches and emus in Texas. This talent is what first caught the eye of those researching this bird, and he was invited to join the initial expedition in 1994. The television series, Monster Quest, later invited him on their expedition, but his work schedule did not allow him to go at that time. He was interviewed by Monster Quest and included in their episode on this creature that aired on television. You can watch the full version of this program here.
Discovery of the Indava Bird would be a scientist’s dream come true
Why is Paul Nation passionate about searching for this creature? The jungle is extremely dangerous. If someone gets sick or hurt, a doctor is nearly a two-week hike away. Paul has gotten malaria and jungle rot on previous expeditions, and he may have to canoe through a dengue fever hot spot when he goes on the next trip. Yet, finding this creature has become the great passion of his life.
“If I can prove that it exists,” he said, “then scientists will bring in better equipment, study it, and provide more knowledge of our mysterious world. Learning more about this bird will also provide conservation efforts to protect it. To me, that’s all well worth the effort it will take to discover the Indava Bird.”
Nation wants to pass on his passion for discovery of this creature to young people and armchair explorers who have a bit of the Indiana Jones adventurous spirit. He has an Indiegogo fundraiser in progress which offers reward levels that will enable donors to be a participant in this quest. Check out the campaign at Help Me Discover the Indava Bird. The website for the Indava Bird Project is www.indavabird.com