Bird Cage Theater Investigation


Location: Tombstone, Arizona

Date: Thursday, October 2, 2003

Moon Phase: Half

Solar Weather: solar flares-M Class, geomagnetic activity-quiet

Investigators present: Hillary M., Robert H., Paul M.

Equipment: Olympus C-3000 digital camera, RCA digital voice recorder, Sony digital video camera with Nightshot, Cannon SureShot Owl 35mm camera, Extech EMF meter, Olympus 2000 Digital Voice Recorder, Extech IR thermometer, Sony Hi-8 Cam, Olympus C-4000 Digital Camera, Trifield EMF meter, Olympus D370 digital camera

History: The Bird Cage Theater was built in the late 1800s as a combination saloon, gambling establishment, and house of ill repute. During the 1880s, the Bird Cage Theater was known as the roughest place in Southern Arizona. It is the only building still left in Tombstone which is still original to the 1880s, having survived two fires, which wiped out the rest of the town. It has been documented that 26 men lost their lives in this building.

  The haunting of the Bird Cage Theater is legendary. Visitors often smell cigar smoke or perfume, or hear the sound of music playing. Some have seen a stagehand walking across the stage. Things often disappear and turn up someplace entirely different sometime later. One night, while the Theater was closed and locked up tight, a huge gaming table was moved across the room and wedged up against the main doorway into the theater area. It took six men to move the table back to its original position, and nothing else in the room had been disturbed. Mr. Hunley, the owner of the Bird Cage Theater, was also once choked by unseen hands during a sťance in the building.

For further information, visit the Bird Cage Theater website at:

Investigation: We arrived at the Bird Cage Theater around 6 p.m. The owner's wife, Paula Jean, was going to meet us there at 6:30, so we took some pictures of the outside of the building in the meantime. Paula Jean arrived promptly at 6:30, and took us into the front room, where we unpacked our equipment. She gave us a very thorough tour of the building, including the front room, main theater room, backstage area, and basement. We took control pictures, and temperature and EMF readings as we went. No abnormal readings were found.
After the tour, we set up an infrared video camera in the main theater, and we settled down in the backstage area to begin an EVP session. From there, we moved down to the basement. Few positive pictures were obtained in these areas.
  At 7:35, we moved the video camera to the backstage area, and we spread out in the main theater. We noticed that there was a dripping sound periodically coming from the huge air conditioning unit. About two and a half minutes into the recording session, I got a sudden feeling that someone was standing directly in front of me, very close to me. The feeling was so overwhelming that I found myself taking a step back. I immediately took a picture, but got nothing. About a minute later, I heard the sound of crystal tinkling after asking the spirits if they could make a noise for us. Robert and Paul did not hear this sound.
  At 7:45, we retrieved the video camera and moved out to the front room for a short recording session. We ended the investigation around 8:00 p.m. We noted that the place felt very still.
Since a lot of the activity happens during the day, we thought that maybe we would have better luck amidst the daytime tourists. To test our theory, we returned on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Unfortunately, even with a plethora of energy to draw from the tourists, the spirits were silent.

Conclusion: After reviewing our data, we found that we did capture a few moving orbs on camera, mostly during Paula Jean's tour. We also recorded, on video, an orb that moved through the backstage area toward the camera, disappeared, and slowly moved from behind the camera back into the room. This video clip is about 8 seconds in duration. This was the only orb recorded on infrared video. We are still reviewing our audio recordings for EVP.
  We have read many stories of the ghosts of the Bird Cage Theater. We certainly have no reason to doubt these stories, considering the amount of history, and the number of deaths that have been documented at the theater. However, the weekend we were in Tombstone, things were very quiet in all of the locations we visited. The pictures and video we obtained at the Bird Cage Theater were enough to suggest a low-level haunting, but nothing more. Experience has taught us that this field is hit or miss, and our results depend on our timing. For our trip to the Bird Cage Theater, our timing was apparently off.

Please note that the Bird Cage Theater is still rumored to be one of the most actively haunted buildings in the United States. Even if you don't experience anything ghostly, the history makes it worth the trip.

We wish to thank William and Paula Jean Hunley for allowing us to investigate this historic site. Although we did not have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hunley, Paula Jean was very open and accommodating, and we are very appreciative of her hospitality.

Submitted by Hillary Murdoch