Photo credit: Jack Bartholmai
Camden Yards isn't the only place you'll find impressive birds. Grab a a pair of of binoculars, a camera, and some comfortable shoes, then head outside to watch Maryland's fine-feathered friends take wing. Here is a sampling of wonderful perches around the state:
Antietam National Battlefield: Here, birders have the opportunity to see over 75 different species while touring a historic Civil War battlefield, a national cemetery, and adjacent nature trails. Bird watching is particularly productive on the Snaverly Trail, but you'll have no trouble spotting a variety of sparrows, including the vesper and grasshopper sparrows, on both the well-worn parts of the battlefield and the outskirts thanks to easily observed nests and boxes.
Cranesville Subarctic Swamp: Described as a “small piece of forest and bog that remained behind after the Ice Age,” the swamp was one of the first National Natural Landmarks designated by the National Park Service. It was formed nearly 15,000 years ago and is now home to species of plants and animals generally found only in the northern reaches of the United States and Canada. A boardwalk crosses the 850-acre swamp, and six trails wind through it.
Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area: This 3,100-acre forest is home to a variety of wildlife, including turkey gobblers, grouse and the occasional black bear. A nearby rest area walkway showcases the area’s geology in the deepest road cut east of the Mississippi River.
Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary: Thousands of Canada geese arrive for the winter; summer days bring ospreys, hummingbirds, finches and purple martins.
Patuxent Research Refuge: A state-of-the-art visitors’ center welcomes you to this year-round refuge for waterfowl, wading birds and wildlife. Free public programs and a seasonal tram ride are offered, under the auspices of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Conowingo Dam: Situated along the Susquehanna Flyway, Conowingo Dam attracts millions of birds annually as they migrate overhead or stop to feed on the abundance of fish. A 14-mile long lake above the dam and hiking trails below the dam provide excellent birding opportunities over a large area. Conowingo Dam is one of the premier winter gull watching sites in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to a nice assortment of breeding songbirds in the lush forested escarpments along the river’s edge, visitors to Conowingo include the Peregrine Falcon, Great Cormorant, Black Tern, Bald Eagle, Sabine's Gull, American White Pelican, and Pacific Loon.
Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary: More than 1,500 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands, forests, meadows and fields create the perfect environment for diverse aquatic plants, as well as a variety of birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary: A board-walk trail is shaded by 100-foot bald cypress trees.
Flag Ponds Nature Park: Three miles of trails lead to observation platforms, a boardwalk, a fishing pier and a visitors center within a 500-acre park. Forested uplands, wetlands and beach habitats provide natural diversity.
Blackwater and Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuges: As major stops on the Atlantic flyway, these refuges offer boardwalks and observation areas to see waterfowl and nesting bald eagles. Blackwater NWR is one of the oldest refuges in the Northeast and was originally established for migratory waterfowl. It protects one of the largest blocks of tidal marshlands in the Chesapeake Bay and is a historically significant resting, feeding, and wintering ground for geese, ducks, and swans. It is also home to the largest concentration of nesting bald eagles on the East Coast, outside of Florida.
Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area:
Fair Hill boasts a large site with a variety of habitats, from grassy fields to deep old woods. It has many walking trails and nice drive areas as well. Bird specialties of the site include Breeding Bobolinks, Veery’s, Warbling Vireo, Acadian Flycatchers, Kentucky Warblers, Bluewinged Warblers (among many other warblers), Grasshopper Sparrows, and Eastern Meadowlarks.
Pickering Creek Audubon Center: A 400-acre farm illustrating sustainable agricultural practices is home to forests, wetlands and a tidal creek.
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