Travel reviews by
National Wildlife Visitor Center
Based on 23 traveler reviews
Sep 24, 2014 by: Erika627 from Glen Burnie
We went for the honey festival and had a great time. My husband took the dog on the trails while I tasted different kinds of honey. Nice gift shop in Visitors center with local products.
NARRATED SHUTTLE TOUR THROUGH FOREST
Sep 24, 2014 by: Maurene_K from Dover, New Hampshire
Located within a 25-mile drive from DC and a 22-mile drive from Baltimore, the National Wildlife Visitor Center is part of the Patuxent Research Refuge, comprised of some 12,750 acres and is divided into three sections. The visitor center and related trails are located in the South Tract. There are about 550 National Wildlife Refuges operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service which is part of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Maryland has five. There is a passport program for the National Wildlife Refuge System. It’s called the Blue Goose Passport. It’s a compact size: 5½” H x 3½” W x ¾” D. It slips right into the pocket of a mid-sized backpack. I got my passport at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA. Most refuges stock them. Ask at the desk. And, that’s where the passport cancellation stamp is usually located. The cancellation stamps are round and show a blue goose in flight. What distinguishes one from another is the band around the edge that has the name of the refuge and its city/state location. The passport page for Patuxent states that it is the only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Patuxent in 1936 by executive order. Admission to the exhibits in the visitor center and the trails is free. When visiting, be sure to bring your camera and binoculars. Our visit was during the Star Spangled 200 Spectacular week of events in Baltimore to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s writing of “The Star Spangled Banner” lyrics after the British assault on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. We started our visit by watching the wonderful, informative video shown in the lobby. Don’t miss it. I recommend this as orientation. The video explains the entire process of what is done for the whooping cranes from collecting the eggs to helping with winter migration to Florida. What the scientists do is quite amazing. SUMMARY OF THE VIDEO: Unregulated hunting and loss of natural habitat caused near extinction of the whooping crane. In 1941, there were 21 wild and 2 captive whooping cranes left. Conservation and human-assisted breeding have brought the numbers up to 599 recently. The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center played a very important role in this development. The eggs are collected from both captive and wild nesting whooping cranes. Then, the eggs are taken to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland where the eggs are incubated. Meanwhile, adult crane sounds and ultralight engine noises are played periodically to accustom them to those sounds. After the eggs hatch, the scientist crane researchers dress like giant cranes in white costumes. The right arm of the costume has a crane head puppet attached. The scientists use the puppet to teach the crane chicks how to eat feed from a dish and to drink. In the video, one chick got trained in about 30 seconds from watching the scientist making the puppet head peck at the food in the dish. The video showed how young whooping cranes learn to look for and follow the adult bird, not human handlers. This is how they keep the wild in wildlife. The chicks grow up in their habitat inside a protective pen. They also learn how to fly in this pen. Then, they learn to follow the ultralight that resembles a big white V-shaped kite with a small motor. The pilot is dressed in a white crane costume and shows them the crane head puppet. They think they’re following the adult bird. Very clever! When they’re strong enough, they are moved to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Central Wisconsin where they receive additional training. Eventually, they can follow the ultralight up in the air outside a pen in preparation for winter migration to St Marks National Wildlife Refuge Florida. Training takes about 6 months. The 1100+ mile migration can take 3 months if weather interferes with the desired schedule. Then, when the whooping cranes arrive at St. Marks NWR, they are put in a very large pen. Veterinarians examine them. After a few days, they are acclimated. They are then released to fly and forage outside the pen during the day. They are trained to return to the protective pen at night. The young cranes become independent by late March. They will soon migrate north on their own. After watching the video, we walked around the visitor center to see all the exhibits. We especially liked the display that lit up a map and showed bird movement month by month. There were other displays that raised concerns about the global environment and endangered species. The touch-screen exhibit titled “Nature Calls” provides information on birds and other wildlife in the refuge. It has several features. It’s just as much for adults as it is for youngsters. There is an indoor wildlife observation area. Next, we took a narrated tour. That cost $3.00 per person. It was well worth the nominal price. At the time of our visit, the tram had mechanical problems. They were using a shuttle. The schedule on the tours varies with the season. Check with the visitor center for days and times. Our shuttle tour lasted just over 30 minutes. We traveled through upland forest, past open fields, and near wetlands. We learned about the different types of forests and what trees grow in each. In one section, there were a lot of tupelo/black gum and beech trees. We saw deer, a great blue heron, and the handiwork of beavers who’d built quite a lodge for themselves. We were hoping to see a scarlet tanager, but any on the refuge that day chose not show themselves. Finish off you visit was walk on one of the many trails. There is a blind for observation near Cash Lake. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. Bring water. Apply insect repellent. One a nice day, one can easily spend several hours here. If you plan a lengthy visit, bring a picnic lunch as there is no food concession, and the nearest restaurants are at a distance. We found our visit to this National Wildlife Refuge very educational. The visitor center and much of the grounds are wheelchair accessible. If you found this review helpful, kindly click YES below.
nice for young children; older kids bored
Jul 10, 2014 by: Elias David B from
Where do take children on a cold, rainy day? This free museum is something nice. They don't sell food and you won't spend more than an hour here. I think this would be great for kids in grades 1-4
May 17, 2014 by: B J from Huntley, Illinois
I just finished completing a 4 day course held in the visitor's center. The facility is very well maintained and has many features I was unable to utilize. As for hosting an event- it was very adequate. The hours were slightly restrictive, but the largest disappointment was there is virtually zero cell phone coverage in the building and there is no WIFI- so if you need that kind of thing make sure they have added it before you book your event.
Lots to See and Do
May 15, 2014 by: JustMeBernie from Bowie, Maryland
Great place to learn and see something new, lots of nature trails (wear something comfortable and bring water), lots of wildlife.
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