In 1998, Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge, were reorganized into the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Reorganization allowed for better apportion of staff and resources for all three refuges. The refuges border Occoquan Bay at the junction of Fairfax County and Prince William County. Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck NWR (on the northeast side of the bay) is the oldest and largest refuge within the complex, being established in 1969 and containing 2,277 acres. As the first national wildlife refuge specifically established under the Endangered Species Act for bald eagles, its focus is on forest, marsh, and riverine habitat important to the bald eagle. On the southwest side of Occoquan Bay is Featherstone NWR containing 325 acres of marsh and riverine habitat important to both waterfowl and eagles. Occoquan Bay NWR is on the west edge of the bay between the other two refuges and is the most recently established of the three. It was established in 1998 and is comprised of lands previously acquired (Marumsco NWR) and recently acquired (Woodbridge Research Facility - military surplus lands) to form a 640-acre refuge. It's primary values are the extensive grasslands interspersed with marshes and early successional shrub and forest areas with value to neotropical migrants and grassland dependent species. The complex headquarters office is located in Woodbridge, Virginia, about 9 miles from Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Refuge and a mile from Occoquan Bay and Featherstone refuges.
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Ospreys are one of the most common bird species seen at Occoquan Bay NWR during spring and summer. They return in early March to re-form pair bonds and establish breeding territories. Breeding pairs can be observed nesting on platforms located throughout the refuge.