Cornwall is located in South West England, United Kingdom, and is rests on a peninsula that lies to the west of the River Tamar and Devon. It covers an area of approximately 1,376 square miles, including the Isles of Scilly, and has a population of roughly 513,528 people. Located within the Kerrier district of Cornwall is the small civil perish of Mawnan, which is situated about 3 miles south of the port of Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall. It was here, in Mawnan, beginning in the late 1970’s, that encounters of a strange, winged human like creature began to be reported.
The Owlman, as the creature would later be dubbed, is generally described as silvery feathered, 5 foot tall, humanoid looking creature, with a large mouth, pointy ears, glowing red eyes and large wings. The first documented sighting of the Owlman, sometimes referred to as the Cornish Owlman or the Owlman of Mawnan, was reported on April 17, 1976 by Vicky and June Melling. These two young girls reportedly watched as a creature, similar to the above description, hovered over a church steeple in Mawnan. The two girls were said to have been so frightened by what they saw that their father, Mr. Don Melling, cut the family vacation short by 3 days to go home early.
A few months after this first sighting, on July 3, 1976, two fourteen year old girls, Sally Chapman and Barbara Parry, were camping in the woods near the same church where the Melling girls first sighted the Owlman. According to Sally’s account, as she stood outside her tent she heard a strange hissing sound and turned to see a figure that looked like an owl as big as a man, with pointed ears and red eyes. She further reported that the creature flew up into the air, revealing black pincer like claws.
Other sightings of the Owlman include a July 4, 1976 sighting by a woman named Jane Greenwood, an August 2, 1978 sighting by three, young, unnamed French girls, who described the Owlman as a big, furry bird with a gaping mouth and round eyes, as well as a 1989 sighting by a young, unnamed couple. The most recent sighting of the Owlman apparently occurred in 1995, when a young woman saw what she described as man bird, with a ghastly face, a wide mouth, glowing eyes and pointed ears.
One theory which has been presented to explain the Owlman sightings was published in 1985 by researchers Janet and Colin Bord in their book Alien Animals. They suggest that the church, which seems to be at the center of most sightings, may have been built on a ley line, a straight line which passes through and links several ancient sites, and speculated that the appearance of the Owlman may be a manifestation of earth energy. However in a later book Modern Mysteries of the World, published in 1989, the two retracted this theory and stated that they believed that the sightings were probably of an escaped aviary bird rather than a paranormal phenomenon.
Others have suggested this more straightforward explanation that Owlman sightings were actually that of an escaped aviary bird, such as an Eagle Owl, a species that can grow more than two feet long, with a wingspan of nearly 6 feet. This is supported by a report by Karl Shuker in regards to a late 1980’s sighting of the Owlman in which the witness described it as four foot high, with two large toes on the front of each foot, it reportedly ducked down and forwards before it took off. Shuker stated in his report that this description and behavior calls to mind a very large owl.
A hand full of researchers have made the connection between the Owlman and the Mothman, a dark, winged humanoid that haunted Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966. Although some physical descriptions of the two seem to match up, the Mothman is thought to be a harbinger of doom whose appearance is preceded by a great disaster, however nothing that would be considered a disaster has occurred in the almost 30 years of Owlman sightings. To this day the origins of the Owlman remain a mystery and the sightings of the creature remain unexplained.