Joan Bird has always been interested in the big questions: Who are we? Why are we here?
She uses a combination of science and spirituality to search for answers. In the introduction to her new book, she writes: “So I have a critical mind with a great respect for knowledge and scientific method. And I am comfortable with the fact that there are some things that science just can’t explain, at least not yet. Perhaps that is why I have always had an interest in those pieces of information that don’t quite fit into the dominant worldview.”
Bird has a Ph.D. in zoology and she’s a longtime member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. She’s worked as a conservation biologist for the Montana Environmental Information Center, The Nature Conservancy and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
So, for those who don’t know Bird, the title of her new book might come as a bit of a surprise, “Montana UFOs and Extraterrestrials: Extraordinary Stories of Documented Sightings and Encounters.”
Wait, don’t stop reading.
In the book, Bird tackles another big question: Are we alone?
And she does so quite convincingly. For those who are somewhat skeptical about life beyond Earth, Bird presents some credible evidence and fascinating stories. For those who already believe in ETs and UFOs, the book might provide comfort.
“When I signed up Joan to do the book, I was not a believer,” said Chris Cauble, publisher at Riverbend Publishing in Helena. “But I have to admit her information is compelling.”
“Montana UFOs” begins with the film Nick Mariana took in 1950 of two spinning discs in the sky above Great Falls. Mariana was the general manager of the Great Falls Electrics, a minor league baseball team, and was walking into the grandstand at Legion Ballpark when he noticed the flying objects. Mariana was a graduate of the University of Montana’s journalism school and kept a movie camera in the glove compartment of his car. He grabbed the camera and captured at least 15 seconds of the disks as they hovered and then flew in unison past the Anaconda Company smokestack.
The Great Falls Tribune ran a front-page story about Mariana’s film. The film drew the interest of the U.S. Air Force, who asked to borrow the film. When the film was returned to Mariana, part of it was missing. According to Bird’s research, this was just one example of a continuing effort of government agencies to suppress and debunk information about the existence of UFOs.
The second chapter discusses a series of events involving the presence of UFOs near Minuteman missile sites in Montana in the 1960s. Several missile launch officers witnessed bright objects hovering nearby as the nuclear missiles they were in charge of were mysteriously deactivated.
Bird writes: “The events in this chapter seeded my first thought of the need for this book. The extensive documentation of UFO activity around nuclear missile sites — and the convincing evidence that UFOs have deactivated nuclear missiles — is something people need to know. It belongs in our Montana history texts, in our American history texts, and in our world history texts. It is that significant, and it is critical to our collective future.”
Bird’s interest in unexplainable phenomena began after her mother had a near-death experience after heart surgery.
“When she told me about it, I found it fascinating,” Bird said. Her mother told Bird about seeing her own mother, who had died six months earlier, and a feeling of being “surrounded in love.”
After the near-death experience, Bird said her mother became telepathic. She could hear her mother call Bird’s name when she was in distress. When Bird was in college, boxes of pens would show up in care packages from her mother when she needed them most.
“I became interested in things that are not easy to explain,” Bird said.
But she didn’t believe in UFOs until several years later when she was asked to write an article on crop circles. During her research, Bird read a book by Linda Molten Howe, an ufologist and expert on crop circles. Bird learned that while many crop circles are manmade, there are some that are made through electromagnetic forces.
Bird started digging deeper into UFOs and human encounters with extraterrestrials.
“It was shocking,” she said. It was also a challenge for the scientific part of her mind to accept. But the evidence was there, she said.
“After my science mind accepted it, I wanted to find people I could talk to,” Bird said.
Those people were hard to find, but not impossible.
“When I would bring it up, people would change the subject,” she said. “But others would be interested. About a third of the time, they would tell me about an experience they or a close friend has had.”
Bird also started attending the International UFO Congress, an annual convention and film festival.
“Most people there are not skeptics,” Bird said.
A self-proclaimed UFO activist, Bird was approached by Cauble to write a book about Montana UFOs about five years ago.