U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

National Wildlife Refuge

2145 Key Wallace Drive
Cambridge, MD   21613
E-mail: fw5rw_bwnwr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 410-228-2677
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Gray horizontal line
  Wildlife and Habitat

Continued . . .

The best time for viewing the waterfowl is between mid-October and mid-March. Wintering species include tundra swans, Canada and snow geese, and more than 20 duck species. The most common ducks found here are mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, wood duck, wigeon, and pintails. Although most waterfowl migrate north in the spring, some remain through the summer, using the protected areas of the Refuge to raise their young. These nesting waterfowl include Canada geese, mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal.

Other large resident birds include the great blue heron and the bald eagle. Sightings of eagles are fairly common as Blackwater is the center of the greatest nesting density of bald eagles in the eastern United States north of Florida. The golden eagle is also frequently sighted on the Refuge during the winter months. Over 85 species of birds breed in the refuge woodlands and surrounding habitat.

Numerous marsh and shore birds arrive in the spring and fall, searching for food in the vast mud flats and shallow waters of the Blackwater river. Ospreys, or "fish hawks," are common from the spring through the fall and use nesting platforms that have been placed throughout the marsh. Osprey and eagle interactions are interesting due to their competition for fish resources.

The Refuge woodlands provide year-round homes for owls, towhees, woodpeckers, brown-headed nuthatches, bobwhite and woodcock. Also, a fast growing population of wild turkeys can be seen. The warmer months invite warblers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, and many others to this same habitat. A bird list for the Refuge has been compiled and is available.

In addition to its extensive list of birds, Blackwater supports a variety of mammals, including bats, raccoons, rabbits, otters, opossums, skunks, and the elusive red fox. Muskrats are common in wetlands, and their dome-shaped grass "huts" can be seen throughout the marshes. The nutria, a destructive South American beaver-like rodent introduced to this area in the 1930's, was once a common sight here, but extensive trapping and management programs have nearly eliminated them from the refuge. White-tailed deer can sometimes be seen in the wooded areas and in fields along the forest edge. Sika deer, a species native to Asia, that were introduced to nearby James Island in 1916, prefer the wet woodlands and marsh. Sika deer are more nocturnal than white-tailed deer and, therefore, are less likely to be seen. Both gray squirrels and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrels inhabit the wooded areas.

- Back -