Georgia Coast Birding Trail - Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center
This site contains remnants of an extensive canal system that linked the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers during the 1800s.
Today the area is a recreational facility that highlights the natural history of this rich floodplain forest while preserving the historic relics associated with a once-thriving artery of commerce.
Types of Birds: Birds of prey, songbirds, wading birds Best Birding Seasons: Songbirds (all), birds of prey (all) and wading birds (all) Specialties: Prothonotary warbler, northern parula, Swainson's warbler, wood duck, Mississippi kite and swallow-tailed kite Tips: Look for beautiful prothonotary warblers and secretive Swainson's warblers in spring and summer. Look for warblers during spring and fall migrations.Watch the skies during spring and summer for Mississippi and swallow-tailed kites. Fun Things To Do: Visit the nature center and museum to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Pick up checklists for wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians. Look for the fascinating wildlife residents of this diverse landscape. Examine the old locks constructed along the banks of the canal.
Trail Walks Canal History Tour - begins at the museum with a brief history of the Canal, a look at artifacts on exhibit, and a demonstration of a working model of a Canal lock. The walk follows the Canal Towpath from Lock 5 to Lock 6 to see the actual remains of the brick structure of the locks.
Participants learn about the importance of water transportation in the early 1800s and "Canal Fever". Products carried on the Canal, such as, rice, cotton, timber, bricks, sand, and many others reflect the economy of the antebellum period in coastal Georgia. Walking distance for the tour is about one mile. Total time is about an hour and a half.
Ecology Program - The one mile walk travels through all three major habitats at the Nature Center: pine flatwoods, river swamp, and sandhill. Each has its distinctive plants and animals. The most noticeable change occurs after a long boardwalk traverses the edge of the river swamp area and ends at the base of the sandhill. Here the abundance of lichens, mosses, drought tolerant plants, and stunted trees gives a dramatic lesson of what a difference soil can make.
Among the animals who favor this unique environment are the threatened gopher tortoises. They can be seen at the Nature Center, except during the colder months when they hibernate. Program time is an hour and a half, and includes a short talk at the Museum prior to the walk. Plants and animals to be seen will vary by season.
Guided Nature Walk - Here the Canal is used as a way to see an extensive river swamp habitat, featuring large stands of cypress and areas inhabited by semi-aquatic plants, such as lizard's tail, pickerel week, lobelia, and golden club. Frogs, snakes, alligators, crayfish, marsh birds and other swamp dwellers often may be spotted along the way, depending on season and time of day. On the return walk down Jenckes' Road, students will investigate one of the "critter traps" in the ponds to see polliwogs, crayfish, minnows and the like. Walking time is approximately one hour.
Living History Programs A Locktender's Life - Everyday doings at the Locktender's home in the 1830s are the subject of this living history program. A costumed interpreter will describe Locktender's duties and demonstrate early nineteenth century skill and children's pastimes. The program includes hands-on experiences where students learn how to split kindling, fetch water, shell corn and play period games. It can be adapted for different grade levels, and is approximately an hour long.
Canal School Days - This living history portrayal takes features from several one-room schools on or near the Canal from 1870 - 1920. Students will experience a different way of learning, through memorizing and reciting instead of pencil and paper. For recess, they will play period games, like marbles, jacks, and "half rubber", the Low Country version of baseball.
Outdoor Classroom (limited to 20 participants)
Working with Clay - How many bricks are in Lock 5? Students can make an educated guess, and compare with recent estimates. Local brickworks were located along the Canal and nearby on the Ogeechee River. The use of wooden brick molds and the building of a "clamp" to fire the dried clay brick will be demonstrated.
A hands-on experience will be provided where students can create clay items to fire in an open fire pit. (Fired clay objects stay hot for several hours, so it is best to retrieve them the day afterward.) Students should wear clothes that can get wet. Program is about one and a half hours.
Canal Archaeology: Builders, Canallers, & Soldiers - All kinds of artifacts have been found at the Canal. Some are part of the Canal workings itself, others are items left here by people who worked here or traveled this way. The museum collection has Civil War items, metal and wooden part of the Canal gates, and household items left by the locktenders and others who lived on the property.
Students will sift a bag of dirt which is salted with a representative sample of artifacts, and identify them as to type, age and use. The half mile walk will be taken to Lock 6 to view wooden artifacts ("treenware"), so the program will take around an hour and a half to two hours.