Tag Archives: owl

Ghost Lights Explained

After researching many accounts of “ghost lights” in various parts of the United States, I have found an obvious answer: Many of these lights are from hunting barn owls, the common Tyto Alba. But the glow of barn owls seems to be far from common, in fact shocking, for the answer involves an intrinsic bioluminescent.

According to the avian researcher Fred Silcock, of Austalia, at least some of these birds have the potential to glow, although it may not be used except in extreme need, in particular near-starvation. Glowing barn owls can catch insects when other prey is unavailable. That would explain why pet barn owls never glow: They are never starved.

The Ghost Light of Masters Knob (Johnson City, Tennessee) may be the bioluminescent glow of one or more barn owls, for it has been described as swinging back and forth as if someone were carrying a lantern. This resembles descriptions of strange flying lights in Australia, the Min Min lights researched by Silcock.

Other American ghost lights are not so easily explained away as hunting owls, such as the Marfa Lights of Texas and the Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina. Especially intriguing are the Marfa Lights, for they sometimes appear to dance: Two lights separate, flying in opposite directions for a time, then they rush back together. This is not at all typical barn owl behavior, notwithstanding those birds often hunt in pairs.

Ghost lights that appear to move intelligently, yet not according to barn owl traditions—those lights can be explained in many ways, most of them inadequately. The most likely explanation for Marfa Lights is a group of intrinsically bioluminescent flying organisms, much larger than fireflies, perhaps even larger than barn owls. Less-likely are they UFO’s, ball lightning, dancing demons, ghosts, or atmospheric conditions. From my interviews and other experiences, I estimate that the probabilities of correct  interpretation of Marfa Lights are these: living nocturnal pterosaurs (perhaps similar to ropens of Papua New Guinea)=75%; unknown living organism=10%; barn owls=8%; misc (UFO’s, ball lightning, demons, ghosts, atmospheric conditions, etc)=7%.


The missile defense physicist Clifford Paiva analyzed video footage of two flying lights (maybe modern bioluminescent pterosaurs). He concluded that common explanations (non-pterodactyl) had been eliminated. No other explanation made sense, among the many speculations possible for the flying lights in Papua New Guinea. The lights were not from meteors, airplanes, car headlights, camp fires, or any other commonplace things. He also eliminated a hoax, noting such things as three-dimensional consistency and distant-blurring consistent with atmospheric distortion.

Analyzing two flying lights - possible pterosaursOne image from the unpublished scientific paper by Clifford Paiva