Blog Description

Mound House Happenings shares the latest in ongoing projects, site improvements, scheduled programs and events, plus interesting facts and photos on our unique archaeology, history and ecology.

Mound House

Mound House
October 15, 2013

Thursday, August 28, 2014


 Snowy egret (Egretta thula)

The striking white plumage, black legs and distinctive yellow feet of the snowy egret make this one of our islands’ most attractive resident wading birds. They are frequently found on  the beach, fishing in the shallows, especially on calm mornings.   

Highly evolved for a life of fishing, the snowy egret with its long legs, long slender neck and pointed bill, is perfectly designed for catching the small fish and crustaceans in the shallows. Sometimes, standing motionless until the moment they strike, they also can be observed herding fish with widespread wings and their bright yellow feet.     

The snowy egret can be found at least seasonally throughout most of the United States, inhabiting rivers, lake shorelines as well as swamps and wet agricultural fields. They are most commonly encountered along the

They can be seen nesting in colonies often in association with other wading birds on small isolated islands and mature cypress swamps.

Now a recovered species, the snowy egret was nearly hunted to extinction in the early 20th century as commercial plume hunters harvested these birds for their gaudy breeding season plumage. These were the feathers that adorned the hats of fashionable ladies throughout the Americas and Europe at the time. Legal protection and post Great War changes in fashion saved this species from demise.    


Tuesday, March 11, 2014



Common Ground Dove (Columbina passerina)

 One of the regular residents at Mound House is the common ground dove, a bird native to the southern United States. These doves are much smaller than their cousins, the mourning dove. Ground doves have a similar soft brown coloring but with pink feathers around the beak with tan wings. Ground doves can often be observed at our bird feeder or foraging amongst the coastal dune vegetation on site for grass seeds or fruits. Picking up bits of shell and grit for their gizzards is a typical late afternoon habit of ground doves, and they are often seen on the shell paths of the property.

Ground doves build their nests either on the ground, or in low growing bushes.  Their small, delicate nests can be observed by our visitors and have been located along the sandy slopes of the shell mound itself or in the low growing native vegetation. These nests usually hold two eggs.  Chicks can fly as early as eleven days after hatching.

These birds are yearlong residents whose feeding and nesting behavior has adapted to seasonal changes.  Not unlike the bobwhite quail, who occupy similar habitat, the ground dove spends most of its time on the ground walking and foraging, flying short distances as needed to relocate.           



Tuesday, January 14, 2014


PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

 One of the occasional visitors to Mound House is the pileated woodpecker. They can be seen foraging in our larger trees for insects, especially carpenter ants and have a particular affinity for the coconut palms on site. Slow and undulating in flight, pileated woodpeckers are a strikingly colorful bird with a bright red head ,white stripes along the cheeks, and jet black body.

Not only does the pileated woodpecker eat ants, they also dine on other insects such as caterpillars and roaches and enjoy fruits and berries as well.

These woodpeckers typically nest in dead trees, carving a large cavity into the tree that can also serve as a future home to other birds. Their large and heavy bills are used to strike and chisel tree trunks with an audible “thunk-thunk” that can be heard far away. They inhabit forests and suburban areas from New England to Florida and all across the United States.  

The photo to the right shows a replica of the Calusa Indian tablet painting found at Key Marco which was dated to over a thousand years old. What significance this bird held for the Calusa remains a mystery, but this tablet is demonstrative of the fascinating art created by these long ago people.

You can see this tablet and many other examples of Calusa art in the “Stories Beneath Our Feet” underground archaeological exhibit here at Mound House.