Wildlife & Habitat

Although first set aside as a haven for migrating and wintering waterfowl, Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. The refuge provides habitat for over 250 species of birds, including our national symbol, the bald eagle. In addition, many species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects find a home on the refuge. Below are some highlighted species and habitats found on the refuge.

  • Tundra Swans

    Tundra swans - Michele Whitbeck/USFWS.

    Around Thanksgiving we give thanks for another kind of bird, the tundra swans. Tundra swans visit the refuge starting in late November before migrating about 4,000 miles in March! They can fly up to 50 miles per hour, weigh 10 to 22 pounds, and have a wing span of 72-88 inches. Although they are all around the island, the Tundra Swan Boardwalk is the best viewing place to see the swans.

  • Bald Eagles

    Bald eagle landing on bridge - USFWS.

    The Chesapeake Bay is a wonderful resource for people and wildlife. Bald eagles make the bay their home year round. Adult and young eagles can be seen all year. Young eagles are covered in brown feathers with some white. They lack the distinguished bald or white heads and tails of the adult birds. Eagles can have a wing span of over 7 feet. Females are about 25% larger than male eagles due to their role of nest protector. Males weigh on average 9 pounds and a female weighs on average 12 pounds. Eagles can be seen anywhere on the refuge.

  • Butterfly Garden

    Butterfly Garden

    The butterfly garden alongside Bayview trail is popular spot to sit back and watch the world flutter by in colorful beauty. Hundreds of butterflies at the peak of summer stop by to sip nectar from native plants and enjoy the view of the Chesapeake Bay. The refuge is a stopover for zebra swallow tails, hair streaks, painted lady, viceroy, and many skipper species.

    Learn about the BayScape garden.

  • Habitat

    Erosion protection - USFWS.

    The refuge is a 2,285 acre island along the shores of the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. Like many island habitats we are managing for erosion. As you peer across the bay to see Annapolis and Baltimore from the Bayview Trail platform, a few feet away are eroded banks. You will also see breakwaters along the shoreline with grasses growing in behind the rocks. This is one of several projects the refuge has completed and continues to work on to protect the marsh, forest, and grassland habitats of Eastern Neck.

    Learn more about habitats on the refuge.