The Flying Monkeys

shadows in the trees

Nashville's Percy Warner Park is home to a legendary breed of flying monkeys, named the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkeys after the geologic region where they reside. The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkeys, classified as an endangered species, are only rarely seen by humans. The monkeys are most active during low light, before dawn and around dusk. Sightings of flying monkeys are uncommon, and most witnesses confuse them with large owls, hawks or flying piglets. While flying monkeys are reputed to carry away small dogs and lost runners, they are generally harmless. Nobody has ever successfully photographed a flying monkey, and flying monkeys are in no way related to or affiliated with the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Percy Warner Park is one of the last known natural flying monkey habitats. Before 1939, such monkeys were seen throughout the Southeast, with concentrations in middle Tennessee and Appalachia, with smaller communities outside Chattanooga and Natchez. Flying Monkeys were rarely seen as far west as Kansas. The monkeys have always been very shy and have kept to themselves, although they have been reported to live in creepy dank castles with green-skinned human outcasts. As a result of their isolationism, the flying monkeys have evoked fear and revulsion among people. Some hunt them for sport. Others have blamed the monkeys for society's ills. Yet others simply refuse to believe that they exist.

As a result of years of over-hunting, destruction of their natural habitats, and simple human ignorance, flying monkeys no longer fill the skies. Only a few tribes remain, mostly relegated to dark hollows and dense woods. From the years of neglect and conflict, the monkeys now generally hide from humans whenever possible. However, when attacked, a flying monkey can defend itself. Its greatest weapon is its wings, which it can use to blind or to carry away any predators.

Runners in Percy Warner Park should keep ever vigilant for the native wildlife. Herds of deer, woodpeckers, skunks, true owls and eagles constantly roam the hills and woods. They will usually stand and watch runners go by. Occasionally, a flying monkey can be spotted perched high up among tree branches in the predawn light. A very fortunate few will witness the monkeys take flight, wings spread beneath the setting full moon, enjoying a few moments of a lost freedom.

An important notice for your safety - many of you will see what you believe are different owl breeds when spending time in the woods in and around the parks. Please be aware that you may be seeing a flying monkey. Flying monkeys are so horrific to witness, your brain cannot properly process the vision and instead presents to your conscious something less frightening. When you see an owl, know then that it may well be a flying monkey, and it may be the last thing you ever see.