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Native Animal Profile: Cedar Waxwing

Photo of cedar waxwing

Cedar Waxwing by Jacob McGinnis, Flickr CC by NC 2.0

Often heard and not seen, the lovely Cedar Waxwing can be found year-round throughout Maryland. Cedar Waxwings sport a pale brown, crested head with a sleek black mask that runs from their bill and around their eyes. The mask has white outlines which help accentuate it. Waxwings have a brown chest that fades into a gray on the wings and light yellow on the belly. Most waxwings have bright red tips on the end of their wings and a bright yellow swatch at the tip of their tail. Male and female Cedar Waxwings look the same. Juveniles look similar to adults but have a heavily brown-streaked breast. Read more…

Calling all Bird Enthusiasts! Join the Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas

Image of Breeding Bird Atlas logo of two birds on Maryland state mapIf you have seen the recent news, you may have heard that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by three billion, or almost 29%, over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, Maryland is not exempt from this decline. 

With changes in habitat and climate over the years, it is crucial to know what species are still utilizing Maryland to breed. One important population survey method is a breeding bird atlas which covers a large geographic area. By tracking bird populations, distributions and the timing of their breeding, researchers can understand how an ecosystem’s health is changing over time.  Maryland is fortunate to have breeding bird atlas data from 1983-1987 and 2002-2006. The majority of the data collected during these efforts was from volunteers.  Beginning this year, the third Maryland – District of Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas (MD-DC BBA3) project and will run through 2024, and you can join in the effort! Read more…

Native Plant Profile: Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Photo of inkberry flowers

Inkberry by Siddarth Machado CC by NC 2.0

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is one of our native, compact shrubs in the holly family (Aquifoliaceae) that keeps its leaves year-round. It is a relatively slow growing species that maxes out at heights of 5- 8 feet tall. It sometimes will form clumps with numerous sprouts, making it a great plant to use as a low hedge or border. The leaves are evergreen, finely toothed and can get up to 2.5 inches long. They appear dark green and shiny above with a lighter, duller appearance below. 
Read more…

Winter Greens for Wildlife

Photo of inkberries

Inkberry by Philip Bouchard CC by NC ND 2.0

Woody plants are essential for wildlife. In the winter, evergreen plants can provide much-needed shelter and food for local animals. Consider adding one or more of these native plants to your backyard landscape to provide for local wildlife.  Read more…

Habitat Project: Eastern Screech-owl Boxes

Photo of screech owl

Screech owl by Roy Niswanger CC by NC 2.0

Did you know? Maryland is home to eight species of owls, several of which are year-round residents while others visit during migration. The smallest resident owl in Maryland is the Eastern Screech-owl, which is often under 10 inches in length. Eastern Screech-owls are formidable hunters and are adapted to survive in both suburban and rural areas where the owls quietly pick off rodents and other small mammals with ease. Unlike larger owls, Eastern Screech-owls will readily take to nesting in boxes if the conditions are right. Read more…

Hunters Harvest 27,000 Deer During Firearms Season

Weather a Factor in Final Numbers

Photo of deer in a field

Photo by John Gambriel

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced that hunters reported taking 27,088 deer during the state’s most popular hunt, the two-week firearms season. The total harvest was 14%  lower than last year’s official count of 31,631. Bad weather on key weekends contributed to the decline in many parts of the state.

More than 2,000 deer were taken on the two Sundays during the season, representing 8% the total harvest. Sunday hunting is currently permitted on select Sundays in 20 of 23 counties. Read more…

Maryland Fishing Report – Will Return in 2020

Maryland Fishing Report is on break for the winter, and will resume in early 2020. For the latest information on fishing and water conditions in Maryland please sign up for our email newsletters at Read more…

First Day Hikes Offer a Fresh Start to 2020

Maryland Public Lands Hosting 40 Hikes Across State

Photo of hikers on trail New Year's Day 2019

New Year’s Day 2019 saw attendance triple for First Day Hikes in Maryland’s state parks.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to join a First Day Hike, Maryland’s annual tradition for a fun, healthy kickoff to the New Year.

On Jan. 1, 2020, the Maryland Park Service will offer 40 guided hikes on 33 state lands and parks, as part of a nationwide event sponsored by America’s State Parks. The earliest of the hikes starts at 8 a.m. while the latest has been planned to take advantage of year’s first sunset.

Among the new hikes planned are a “Year of the Woman” hike at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Dorchester County, and a First Day Birding Hike at Chapman State Park in Charles County.  Read more…

Muzzleloader Season for Deer Reopens Dec. 21

Second Half of Season Runs Until Jan. 4

Photo of herd of deer on snow-covered field

Photo: Deer Herd at Monocacy Battlefield by Jan Branscome

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the second segment of the muzzleloader deer hunting season will open Dec. 21 and run through Jan. 4, 2020. Hunters may use muzzleloading firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer during this season. Read more…

2019 ‘Conservationist of the Year’ Awarded to Thomas DiGregorio of Dorchester County

Photo of Wildlife and Heritage Service staff standing with Conservationist of the Year Thomas DiGregorio, displaying his framed award.=

From left to right: Jacob Peregrim, Paul Peditto, Thomas DiGregorio;, Lou Compton, and Greg Schenk

On behalf of the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is pleased to announce that Thomas DiGregorio has been recognized as the 2019 Conservationist of the Year. The award was presented at the Nov. 20 meeting of the Wildlife Advisory Commission at the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis.

“Tom DiGregorio’s dedication to the ideals of conservation and habitat management for the betterment of wildlife is apparent to all who meet him,” Wildlife Advisory Commission Chairman Lou Compton said. “For this continued perseverance of conservation and appreciation for the results he has produced, we are proud to honor Tom DiGregorio with the 2019 Maryland Conservationist of the Year award.” Read more…

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AccessDNR January 2020

The January 2020 edition of a monthly video newsletter hosted by Gregg Bortz.