Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bluebird Sentinels of Serpent Mound...

If you see "Serpent Mound" in the title, you probably have guessed that Matty and I are back at Shawnee State Park doing our week of volunteering at the nature center with the fabulous and awesome naturalist there, Jenny Richards, author of Naturally Speaking from Shawnee State Park. If you want to see some of what Matty and I did last year at Shawnee click here. Rick is back at home working and holding down the fort, so he is missing out on the fun, but Matty and I are having a blast playing with the snakes and helping out at the nature center. If you're in the area, drop by! Tomorrow Matty and I are leading a workshop for the kids to teach them how to paint birds on rocks. It will be fun, and it's free!

Last year, Matty and I visited Serpent Mound the first day we arrived, and this year we did the same. We wondered if the Bluebirds that seemed to patrol the park would still be there, and they were...and there were more of them! Once again, the birds were hard at work, keeping a watchful eye on the ancient serpent effigy...

Serpent Mound is an ancient 3-foot high and 1,330 foot (nearly a quarter-mile) long serpent earthwork effigy built on a ridgetop overlooking Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. The grass-covered serpent effigy is 20-25 feet wide. I was at the top of the viewing tower when I took this shot, but the serpent is way too big to fit into one camera frame. Click here for an article on the Ohio Archeology Blog that details the mound and shows an arial view of the Great Serpent.

Eastern Bluebirds act as sentinels at the Great Serpent Mound, reminding us to stay off the earthwork mounds to preserve the ancient effigy. Papa Bluebird seems to be teaching his baby the ropes...it's a very important job. Not just any bluebird can do it...

...later papa flew down to the eastern coil of the serpent mound for a personal inspection--all's clear to his right!

...all's clear to his left!

...more lessons for junior. The bluebirds at Serpent Mound are ever-vigilent. Afterall, their charge is the largest ancient earthen effigy mound in the world!

...of course, the Bluebird Sentinels were not the only birds guarding the sacred effigy. Here a Chipping Sparrow sings out an alarm from the path. Phoebes were perched all around, and huge American Crows flew regularly overhead to monitor the perimeter. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, and goldfinches were singing too...while Wood Thrushes and Ovenbirds had the steep hillsides that slid down to Brush Creek covered... :-)

...Matty and I are having so much fun volunteering at Shawnee. I will have more to post in the coming days. Today we watched two Timber Rattlesnakes being prepared for release back into the wild. They were fitted with little GPS chips under their skin so they can be monitored. The Timber Rattlesnake is an endangered species in Ohio, and Shawnee may be his last stronghold.

23 comments:

texwisgirl said...

nice shots of the bluebird and sparrow guardians!

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly ...those mounds are just amazing....Your Bluebird photos are so nice I just love them!!
There was one in the back yard tonight at the very tip-top of a very high tree singing his little heart out!!

Elaine said...

The sentinels certainly take their job seriously!

Wanda..... said...

Wonderfully composed Kelly. Glad to know the Sentinel Bluebirds take their work seriously!

Out on the prairie said...

IO have seen 3 hatches in one box I maintain,they are so lovely.I am headed to Efigy Mounds National Monument this next week.I will be staying near there trout fishing all week.

Hilke Breder said...

Great post, Kelly, with interesting information and beautiful photos. Enjoy your time! Cheers! H.

Banjo52 said...

Nice shots and captions for the bluebirds. It's hard to argue with their colors.

I stayed at Shawnee a couple years ago and liked it a lot. Most of the Ohio state parks and lodges are good, though Salt Fork has been disappointing.

I wonder if Portsmouth is gonna have any kind of return to prosperity . . . .

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! Heh, heh. They remind me of back home in Newport, where Spike the attack Mockingbird sits on the "Welcome" sign to the Sachuest Point NWR and glares his patented Mocker glare at all Refuge visitors.

BTW, I just upgraded to a smartphone, and one of the first apps I downloaded is the Audubon Society's bird ID app. On the other hand, I still carry my Peterson's in my bag. Heh, heh!

Janice K said...

How fun to see bluebirds all over the place. Have a great week!

Frank said...

Great to see the guardians are still doing an excellent job. Hope you both have a good week and I'll spare a thought for the one left at home!

Montanagirl said...

Very interesting post as always. Nice shots of the "serpent" and the Bluebirds.

Cicero Sings said...

Very interesting post!

Chris said...

Beautiful set of pictures kelly and I love very much the third and the fourth ones for their composition...

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, So glad to get home and back to blogging. We did have a fabulous trip--but home is pretty nice also!!!!!

You two are in '7th heaven' I'm sure---at Shawnee State Park. I know how much you both love it there..

Beautiful pictures of the bluebirds and the Serpent Mound.
Hugs,
Betsy

Debbie said...

awesome pictures of the bluebird and sparrow!!

hope your having fun!!!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

How interesting for you and Matty. Love the little sentinels, too!

forgetmenot said...

Some volunteer jobs are fun, and some volunteer jobs are FUN--this definitely sounds like the FUN one. Great shots of the bluebirds--I'll have to look it up and see if we even have bluebirds in Kansas. I don't think I've ever seen one here. But, Dorothy was singing about bluebirds, but, oh yes, that was "over the rainbow", notjust in Kansas. Have a great
4th of July weekend. Mickie :)

Lois Evensen said...

It is so much fun seeing your pictures and the places that are so familiar to us, too. Wonderful images!

Roy said...

I particularly like the shots in the grass Kelly.

Tammie Lee said...

it sounds as though your are having a wonderful time there. loved seeing the serpent and the bird friends too.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! Be sure to visit Serpent Mound if you're in the area. It really is cool. We will be back again to volunteer next summer...it will be interesting to see if the bluebirds are still there! :-)

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

What a wonderful outing and tradition you and Matty are sharing! I've been w/o internet since 6/29. Lots of catching up. But first, all the interesting links you've posted!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Your shots of the bluebirds were beautiful and the serpent mound was great. I have always been interested in this type of feature so the post was a delight for me.

Regards
Guy