We admittedly don’t pay homage enough to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Being located just a stone’s throw from Assateague Island National Seashore, we tend to head to Assateague more often than Blackwater, but the upcoming Eagle Festival at the NWR has us planning a trip for the near future. With spring on the way, we can’t think of a better excuse to get outdoors and enjoy our natural Eastern Shore habitat.

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 and is located in Dorchester County, just outside of Cambridge. The NWR was founded as a waterfowl sanctuary and is currently home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida. Often referred to as the “Everglades of the North,” the NWR contains one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, encompassing three major habitats – forest, marsh, and shallow water.

As a home to one of the largest breeding populations of American bald eagles, the NWR is a popular site for viewing bald eagles in their natural habitat. In 2004, the Friends of Blackwater went one step further, mounting a camera over an active bald eagle’s nest on the refuge property, allowing people to watch numerous eagles hatch and fledge over the years. The camera is live from December through July and can be viewed here.

The NWR also celebrates its eagle population each year with their annual Eagle Festival.  The event will take place this Saturday, March 14, from 9am until 4pm. It’s the 15th year for the Eagle Festival, an event that aims to celebrate and educate through free activities for all ages, including live birds-of-prey programs, exhibits, refuge tours, eagle prowls, and presentations.  Activities last all day, from 9am until 4pm. Some of the activities/programs include Tours, Live Bird and Culture Programs, Guest Speakers, Exhibitors, and Kids Programs. Kids Programs are held all day with popular activities like the Youth Archery Range and the Wren Nest Box Construction. Other programs we have our eye on are the Eagle Prowls, Native American Program, Live Birds of Prey, and the Basic Photography lecture. For a fill schedule of events, click here.

The Eagle Festival is rain or shine, so no matter the outcome of the weather Saturday, head out to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge for an educational, family-friendly day celebrating our natural habitat.