Wisconsin effigy mounds of a "Birdman"

Wisconsin effigy mounds of a "Birdman"


Man mounds with outstretched wings on the Wisconsin River.  What are these? Is it a mythological creature?  Is it the Mothman?




About a mile and a half beyond, on the side of the road, is the human figure with its gigantic arms, having a stretch or extension of two hundred and eighty-eight feet (No. 3); so great, indeed, that the size of the plate adopted requires the omission of part of one of them. They are both of the same length. The body is fifty-four feet long, if we include the head and neck.
This figure stands by itself, in a valley or pass between two of the high sandstone bluffs, one of which rises immediately above the head. A small brook, a tributary of the Wisconsin, runs a little to the east and south.
From the site of this remarkable and lonely structure, the road leaves the immediate valley of the Wisconsin, and, passing a “divide,” descends into the valley of the stream called Honey creek. Towards the mouth of this creek are numerous works of great interest; the first, near the residence of Mr. Mosely, being represented on Plate Unluckily the breaking-up team had, only the week previous to our visit, turned over the natural sod upon most of these works; the four figures at the southwestern part of the group only remaining uninjured. Here we found a number of forms quite different from any heretofore described. One is apparently intended to represent the human shape, though very deficient in the proportional length of the arms and legs. (No. 4.)
Another, and larger mound, of similar general form, stands adjacent; and it can hardly be supposed that the object of the one was very different from that of the other. Perhaps they are designed to represent a male and female.
These earth works are four feet high at the intersection of the arms, where they are highest. The arms are in a straight line, at right angles with the body. The resemblance of the latter figure, however, to some supposed to be intended to represent birds, shows that there is a gradual transition from one form to another among mounds of this kind as well as others. 
The two figures adjoining these, are presumed to represent the buffalo or bison (Bos americana). One of them was carefully measured, and the result is shown in the enlarged figure ( No. 1). The general contour, especially the hump over the shoulders, renders the suggestion probable. The forms are almost exactly alike, though one is slightly larger than the other. They also may be intended for the two sexes. It will be observed that the attitude is quite spirited and natural; probably representing the animals in the act of browsing or drinking.
The two quadrupeds north of the road, were too much injured by the plough to enable us to make them out satisfactorily; but they did not appear to present any new features. The long ridges (nearly a thousand feet in length) are a peculiar circumstance in this group; yet they seem to be located without design. The one with an irregular cross ridge near the top may be thought to represent a bow and arrow; or it is a cross with curved arms.
These works occupy a gentle slope, extending from the base of the high bluffs towards the marshy and springy grounds at the south. Beyond the marsh another bluff rises abruptly. The space between the bluffs only is used for agricultural purposes; and, if in possession of a warlike people, we might fancy these long ridges constructed to defend the passage leading between the bluffs, from the valley of the river below; to the interior or back country. This may have been the object of the most easterly and longest ridge or parapet; but of what use, according to this theory, were the other similar ridges, which could not have been intended for defence?
It is much to be hoped that the proprietor of the two buffalo effigies will not allow them to be wantonly destroyed. They escaped the first efforts of the plough; it will be fortunate if they always secure the same exemption.