Seeking Refuge Around the Bay
The National Wildlife Refuge System, administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, manages several refuges in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The refuge system is a network of lands and waters managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat. Can you match up each of these refuges with a description of some of its more outstanding features?
1. Back Bay
3. Eastern Neck
4. Eastern Shore of Virginia
5. Fisherman Island
6. Glenn L. Martin
7. James River
8. Mason Neck
10. Plum Tree
11. Patuxent Research Refuge
13. Rappahannock River Valley
[A] This refuge provides habitat for the endangered prothonotary warbler, with more than 288 nest boxes in use.
This refuge contains the largest roosting area for juvenile bald eagles east of the Mississippi River.
[C] Millions of songbirds, raptors and waterfowl are known to stop here during their migration and wait for the right wind to help them in their flight across the Chesapeake Bay. A 60-foot observation platform on the foot trail overlooks the ocean and barrier islands. Bird species found here include great blue herons, snowy egrets, peregrine falcons, broad-winged hawks, bobwhite quail, clapper rail, flickers, Carolina chickadees, eastern kingbirds, screech and great horned owls, bluebirds, meadowlarks, pine warblers, robins, golden and ruby-crowned kinglets, and goldfinches.
[D] This refuge features the Woodmarsh Trail, a three-mile walk through a deciduous forest bordering Great Marsh. Wildlife one might encounter, or see evidence of, on this trail include beaver, bald eagles, ospreys, marsh hawks, herons, migrating waterfowl and other marsh birds. Two cross trails, Fern Pass and Hickory Pass, feature several varieties of each of those species.
[E] This refuge, one of the largest forested areas in the mid-Atlantic, provides critical breeding habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds. Many waterfowl also stop here during their migration. In all, more than 200 species of birds occur on the refuge. The refuge’s North Tract offers hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, trails and interpretive programs. Its Central Tract, a study site for many research biologists, is closed to the public. The South Tract is home to the National Wildlife Visitor Center, which offers interactive exhibits, hiking, tram tours, a wildlife management demonstration area and outdoor education activities.
[F] This remote saltmarsh island, which is closed to the public, is home to ducks and wading birds.
[G] River damming and other factors have changed this one-acre island, which used to be prime habitat for canvasback and redhead ducks. It is closed to the public.
[H] This refuge is habitat for waterfowl, marsh birds and shorebirds. Because it contains unexploded ordnance from the refuge’s earlier use as a bombing range, it is considered dangerous and is closed to the public.
Visits to this refuge must be arranged at the nearby Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. It is a nesting site for such species as the brown pelican; royal, common and sandwich terns; skimmer; oystercatcher; glossy ibis; willet; piping plover; gadwall; black duck and osprey. Rafts of 30 to several hundred sea ducks can be viewed offshore in the winter.
[J] Although ducks and geese are the most common species on this large refuge, other wildlife that might be encountered are: Delmarva fox squirrel, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, red fox, opossum, skunk, otter, white-tailed and sika deer, nutria, quail and a variety of songbirds, including the Acadian flycatcher, orchard oriole, blue grosbeak, brownheaded nuthatch, indigo bunting and yellow-breasted chat.
[K] This refuge is undergoing continuous land acquisition to prevent development throughout its area. The National Wildlife Service expects to increase the refuge’s land base to 20,000 acres through donations and land purchases.
[L] This refuge, which was combined with the former Marumsco National Wildlife Refuge, features a diversity of habitats, including one of the last large, undeveloped, grassland areas in northern Virginia. It is important to migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway.
[M] This island refuge can be reached by boardwalk. A walk through a small woodland of loblolly pine and holly leads to an observation tower surrounded on three sides by a marsh. In addition to the many species of songbirds, wading birds, waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey, one can also, in season, see monarch and zebra butterflies. The latter lays its eggs exclusively on pawpaws, many of which are found here.
[N] In addition to many bird species, this refuge is home to the gray fox, feral hog, muskrat, mink, otter and weasel. The refuge is also noted for its wildflowers, including the grass pink, sundews, creamy plume grass, ladies tresses and meadow beauties.
1-N 2-J 3-M 4-C 5-I 6-F 7-B 8-D 9-L 10-H 11-E 12-A 13-K 14-G
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