- There are many opportunities to observe wildlife at Patuxent Research Refuge. Over 20 miles of roads and trails exist for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding, all great ways to explore the refuge. At the North Tract, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company has contributed to the creation of a wetland and wildlife viewing areas where visitors may see waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds in an area that was formerly an artillery testing range.
Several habitat areas at the refuge are studied for their ecological value. The Pond with Nesting Islands is a 3.3-acre open pond that attracts migratory and resident waterfowl. It provides nesting and feeding habitat year-round. Two cross-shaped nesting islands allow waterfowl to nest in protected areas. Emergent plant species include spike rush, pickerel week, lizard tail, bulrush, and rice cutgrass. Surrounding the pond are 0.2 acres of mudflats, providing feeding areas for wading and shore birds such as plovers and sandpipers. Beyond the mudflats is a scrub/shrub community with plants that provide food and cover for wildlife. Common plant species include buttonbush, common alder, elderberry, fetterbush, silky dogwood, swamp rose, and winterberry holly.
The 13.3-acre Palustrine Forest Wetland lies east of the pond providing seasonally saturated wetlands that function as water quality and quantity control as well as habitat for wetland plant and animal species. Common tree species include red maple, river birch, green ash, sweet gum, black gum, and pin oak.
The Greentree Reservoir is called "greentree" because seasonal flooding does not harm the trees; this 6.5-acre area is located across the roadway (south) from the seasonally saturated forested wetlands. This area provides flooded forested wetlands, ideal habitat for wintering migratory birds as well as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, raccoon and other fur bearers.
The Upland Successional Forest is a 3-acre area located directly east of the environmental education building. It provides singing grounds and nocturnal roosting sites for woodcock. Notice how the meadow is mowed in alternating rows. This provides increased diversity and maintains an early successional cover habitat.
When visiting the refuge, be sure to bring binoculars. Over 200 species have been identified at Patuxent Research Refuge. Common sightings include grebes, herons, vultures, ducks, hawks, plovers, sandpipers, doves, cuckoos, owls, nightjars, swifts, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, jays, swallows, chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, wrens, kinglets, warblers, thrushes, waxwings, tanagers, towhees, cardinals, grosbeaks, and finches.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the bird list from the Visitor Center. Note the historical sightings on the last page. The list of 27 was never spotted during the 1990s.
Ask a local about Patuxent Wildlife Observation SiteLocals have answered 28 questions about Washington DC.
Ask Washington DC Locals about Patuxent Wildlife Observation Site
- No Sweat
- User Rating