Tag Archives: Chesapeake Bay Field Office

Tu Casa at Patuxent Research Refuge

Hispanic Access Foundation intern, Abraham Lopez Trejo is right at home and doing what he loves best at Patuxent Research Refuge. Be sure to join us all summer as we hear from our interns about their work and experience. 

As time passes and cities grow and become more heavy populated, a concerning disconnection from nature becomes greater with each generation. Thankfully, we have organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that  have made their goal not only to protect wildlife but also to bring nature back into our daily lives. This quest to find the equilibrium has translated into a partnership between the Service and Hispanic Access Foundation. This is when a group of thirteen young Latinos,  including myself, have become the fruit of this partnership.

As an intern, myself, I have happily accepted the invitation to be that piece that connects the Latino communities in urban areas to nature. Personally, I believe strongly in the power of community engagement to improve the way of life of the public, and this internship presents this opportunity.

Although, it has been only a couple of weeks since I started my internship I cannot help to feel like I am at “casa” (home) at Patuxent National Research Refuge.  This warm feeling of community that can be experience at Patuxent its only possible because of hard work that everyone does at Patuxent. It is stunning to see so many faces willing to be the change in this world. This is reflected on the hard work and passion that goes into their educational programs and their outreach to the urban community.

As a part of this change, and as Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intern, I will be playing a key part, by encouraging the younger Latinx and non-Latinx generations on being active members of their communities. All this is a coordinated effort between many parties to lift underserved communities (in this case south Baltimore city area).

As an intern at Patuxent, I’ll working at the National Wildlife Refuge Welcome Center. However, half of the time, I will be working as well with Chesapeake Bay Field Office, on community engagement in south Baltimore. So far there is a plan to work in community engagement in neighborhoods like Brooklyn, Cherry Hill, Westport. Also, if time allows, we are envisioning to work in parks like Carroll Park creating pollinator gardens and planting native wildflower species.

Recently, we have been encounter a great opportunity to work with the YMCA. After contacting the YMCA, we have found a couple of schools in south Baltimore and near Patuxent that might be able to join us for Latino Conservation Week events.

Besides planning for Latino Conservation Week and future events, we have participated with the Chesapeake Bay Field Office in events like Play in the Park Day; where we teach kids about nature and simple ways to entertain yourself outside. We have also participated in fishing events at Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge and Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center. Also, there has been a great opportunity learn about barn owls and osprey.

Likewise, I have the great opportunity to be working as a team with JoAnna Marlow (the other Hispanic Access Foundation intern at Patuxent National Research Refuge). Working as a team has improve the efforts on outreach events for the community and creating connections with possible partners. There has been a lot of learning and growth in the last couple of weeks as I become more aware of the responsibilities and efforts that are required to engage the community and educate them.


Engaging Baltimore Students in Urban Habitat and Water Quality Enhancement

Leah Davis, Chesapeake Bay Conservation Corps Member, sets the stage today with her project to connect Baltimore students with wildlife and their watershed.

For students in Baltimore City, and across the nation, environmental stewardship often takes a back seat to math and reading goals. Contrary to this, the students at Benjamin Franklin High School are engaged in science and service learning from the time they enroll as ninth graders. This year students have been participating in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE) with the Baltimore Rivers to Harbor Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership (formally named Masonville Cove Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership) and several other Baltimore area environmental organizations.


Students, their teacher, and staff from USFWS and the National Aquarium pose with the planted rain garden. The environmental science and biology teachers at Benjamin Franklin High School will incorporate the garden into future lessons about habitat, water quality, and pollution. Credit: Chris Guy, USFWS

This year, students took part in a series of field experiences where they conducted research, made detailed observations, and discovered actions they can take to minimize the adverse effects they may have been having on the watershed. During a fieldtrip to Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center, students collected and analyzed water quality data with guidance from the Living Classrooms Foundation naturalists. Staff from the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and the National Aquarium assisted students in conducting a mini-bioblitz on the Masonville Cove campus, discovering the various pollinator species and other wildlife living in the urban habitat.


Gaby Roffe of the National Aquarium holds a monarch butterfly students captured at Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center. Credit: Leah Davis, USFWS

In an additional field experience exercise, students investigated water flow on their campus noting features such as topography and impermeable surfaces. Once students further understood the environmental and ecological implications of urban water movement in their watershed, they discussed possible “student action projects” to improve the water and habitat quality in the community. In addition to common ideas such as picking up litter, washing cars in designated areas, and avoiding pesticide use, students agreed that installing a rain garden on campus would be a great way to improve both water and habitat quality in the community.


Environmental science students plant native fall nectar sources that will provide urban habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinator species. Credit: Leah Davis, USFWS

A 450 square foot rain garden was installed on Benjamin Franklin High School’s campus with funding provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust and CSX CorporationThe garden, constructed by Blue Water Baltimore, filters runoff and provides pollinator habitat in the urban watershed. While the technical design of the garden was completed by Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologists and partners, students assisted with designing the plant layout in the garden and planted native milkweeds and fall nectar sources. Students summarized their experiences throughout the entire MWEE in group presentations to their peers.


The newly constructed rain garden filters up to 350 cubic feet of water during rain events. Credit: Leah Davis

The enthusiasm and commitment of these high school students and members of the Masonville Cove Urban Partnership clearly show that residents of urban areas have a big role to play in the future of America’s cities and conservation of wildlife.

Tom and Audrey at their nest. (Photo credit: Chesapeake Conservancy.)

Nesting Osprey Pair on Chesapeake Bay Becomes Foster Parents

Followers of Tom and Audrey, the osprey pair who are the focus of the Chesapeake Conservancy’s osprey webcam, received fantastic news recently, just in time for Father’s Day.

The Chesapeake Conservancy announced on June 17 that Tom and Audrey, an osprey pair who nest along the shores of Kent Island on the Chesapeake Bay, had adopted two foster chicks.

The road to parenthood began when Audrey produced three eggs. Tom and Audrey’s webcam viewers watched in anticipation as the pair tended to the eggs. As time went on, however, it became clear that the eggs were not viable. Tom was a new mate for Audrey this year, and it is not uncommon for first year mates to lack success in reproduction. Fans of the pair, and the homeowners who host Tom and Audrey’s nest, were disappointed to see them sitting faithfully on their eggs with no hope for a family this season.

The Chesapeake Conservancy consulted Dr. Paul Spitzer, a well-known ornithologist and osprey expert, who suggested that Tom and Audrey might find success as foster parents.

That’s when the Chesapeake Conservancy contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie of the Chesapeake Bay Field Office. After observing Tom and Audrey’s behavior and visiting their nest site, Craig determined they were excellent candidates for a successful fostering.

Early in the nesting season, two eggs were removed from a nest on Poplar Island deemed unsafe due to its location near a mooring site for a barge. The eggs were temporarily relocated to another osprey nest on Poplar Island where no disturbances were occurring. However, that nest was already home to three eggs.

The osprey chicks are healthy and ready to be relocated.  (Photo credit: Chesapeake Conservancy.)

The osprey chicks are healthy and ready to be relocated.  (Photo credit: Chesapeake Conservancy.)

Four of the five eggs hatched, while the fifth was likely pushed out by the nesting female. Osprey typically lay two eggs and sometimes three. A four-egg clutch has been documented only on rare occasions. Two nestlings have the best chance for full development due to competition between siblings.

Service biologists Peter McGowan and Robbie Callahan, who monitor bird populations on Poplar Island, joined Craig in assessing the newly hatched chicks. All four chicks were doing well, and they decided that the two chicks with the greatest body weight would be placed with Tom and Audrey.

The next day, the two foster chicks were relocated to Tom and Audrey’s nest.  Watch a video of the relocation here.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Craig Koppie (left) and landowner (at right, carrying the chicks) wade out to the foster nest as "Audrey" watches from above.  (Photo credit: Chesapeake Conservancy.)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Craig Koppie (left) and landowner (at right, carrying the chicks) wade out to the foster nest as “Audrey” watches from above.  (Photo credit: Chesapeake Conservancy.)

Upon arrival back at their nest, Tom and Audrey discovered the chicks and readily accepted them as their own, much to the delight of the property owners who host the nest.

“We were so encouraged by Dr. Spitzer’s suggestion to find a foster chick for our faithful osprey pair. The fact that he has been so successful in transferring eggs and chicks during his DDT studies was a great comfort to us,” said the family. “We are also so fortunate to have Craig Koppie’s expertise, enthusiasm and positive attitude, which allowed Tom and Audrey the chance to raise a family this season. Finally, many thanks to the dedicated folks at the Chesapeake Conservancy for putting all the pieces together to make this happen.”

“This [osprey] pair was incredibly determined to hatch and rear young. I am glad to see that a solution was possible, and it was done in a collaborative manner that was a win for wildlife and our osprey-cam viewing public,” said Craig.

Check out local news coverage of Tom and Audrey’s journey to parenthood here.

To see Tom and Audrey – and their adopted chicks! – in action, check out the Chesapeake Conservancy’s osprey webcam at www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/osprey-cam.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also maintains osprey cams, at Masonville Cove in Baltimore, Maryland; at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex; and at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville , New Jersey.

*Readers are reminded that all native migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and that captive rearing without authorization is a violation of federal law and, in many cases, also a violation of state law.  Contact your state natural resource agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or a local animal rehabilitation center should you find young that have fallen from a nest.  Click here for more information about migratory birds, nests and chicks.