Today was the Mansfield area CBC, a bird count well-orchestrated by Steve McKee, our county park director. I feel very fortunate to get an interesting piece of the count circle, a portion overlooking the historic Mansfield Reformatory. Located north of the city of Mansfield on route 13, the old Mansfield Reformatory is located right next door to MANCI (Mansfield Correctional Institution).
This turn of the century building was designed as light-security prison, or reformatory for troubled boys. Not unlike cemeteries of that age, it served double-duty as a public grounds, garden and picnic area. The grounds were lovely and well-tended; it would not be unusual for local families to have Sunday picnic on the lawn. The rolling grounds also boasted an active farm, a reflection pond and small gazebo. Unfortunately, what was intended to be a hand up for troubled youth eventually turned into a nightmare for those incarcerated. A local group has tried to preserve the building and it was used extensively in several movies, including the Shawshank Redemption.
My "reformatory time" involves sorting through the 600 some Canada Geese found feeding on the lawn this morning and counting the thousands of American Crows headed back to the Mansfield evening roost. I like to refer to my section as the Counting Crows tour, as I admire this highly intelligent species and revel in seeing more American Crows on a count day than all of my other species combined. Bring on the Jail Birds, this is a great gig!