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Archive for the ‘Directors’ Category

Saving Salamanders – Dec 6th

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Biologist Beth Schlimm holds a Tiger Salamander.
Photo by Kevin Stohlgren.

11/30 Note: Kevin Stohlgren has replaced Beth Schlimm as the speaker for this talk.

Learn about Maryland’s efforts to save the endangered Tiger Salamander in our Delmarva wetlands at our Dec. 6 general meeting 7-8 p.m. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has been working to restore our regional bays to the natural conditions favorable to increasing Tiger Salamander breeding. Beth Schlimm, conservation specialist with the Natural Heritage Program of the MD DNR, will describe the successes of the program and the challenges ahead. This talk can qualify for continuing education hours Master Naturalists.

Zoom in and join us online. The presentation is free and open to all. To receive the link to join, sign up for our Osprey newsletter using the form at the bottom of this web page. We will email the link prior to the event.

30-Year-Old Royal Tern Spotted

Ben Springer has reported hundreds of banded terns and gulls to the U.S. Geological Survey.

But, he wasn’t prepared for the notice he received on a Royal Tern he spotted at Point Patience at the Solomon’s Navy Recreation Center this past July.

“I just got a band return for one of the Royal Terns I reported this summer and he’s 30 years old, banded in 1993!” Springer texted me when he received notification from the USGS. “That’s only six months younger than the oldest ever known.”

Springer’s Royal Tern Number 174-29837 169 was banded as a nestling in 1993 before it could even fly, according to the certificate USGS sent Springer. It was banded July 9, 1993, at Rhodes Point in Accomack County, VA. Thats about 34 miles, as the tern flies, from where Springer photographed it this July 12.

The year the Royal Tern hatched Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Beanie Babies first hit the market, gasoline was $1.16 a gallon, Bill Clinton took office as President and Ben Springer had not yet been born.

Springer, who is vice president of Southern Maryland Audubon and is a senior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, surveys for banded terns as part of an internship he’s had for three years at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

“This one was in a flock with some other terns and gulls,” said Springer. “There was a flock on the point most days and I would go out to get band numbers. Most of the time new birds would be there each day I went out.”

Royal Terns stand out with their brilliant tangerine orange bill and racy black crest against a snowy white head.

Springer tucked his camera under his t-shirt and straddled a paddle board with a kayak paddle to get close enough to the birds to photograph the small silver bands on their legs. His 30-year-old tern was one of 21 Royal Terns he identified that day.

Springer estimated he has reported about 120 banded Royal Terns and 130 Common Terns this year. But, in the bird world, No. 174-29837 169 stands out as true royalty.

Photo by Ben Springer. Story by Molly Moore

Camp Report: Puffins & More!

Jan de Regt, winner of our Southern Maryland Audubon Field Ornithology scholarship to the famed Hog Island Audubon Camp, has just returned from her birding adventure with Atlantic Puffins and other species on the island off the Maine coast. Enjoy her account!

Everything I experienced was so remarkable that it’s difficult to choose just a few highlights, but I’d have to say that seeing the Puffins, hearing a Veery, seeing warblers be banded and released and hearing the heartbeat of an American Redstart are all top contenders.

Photographing the Milky Way in the wee hours with my roommate and another camper who joined the fun ranks right up there too.

We cruised to Eastern Egg Rock in the rain to see the Atlantic Puffin colony that had been re-established by Project Puffin beginning in the 1970s. There were Puffins everywhere, along with Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, a Roseate Tern, Common Terns, a lone American Oystercatcher, together with lots of gulls, Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants.

We continued on to Allen Island where we erected several mist nets, called in some warblers and banded them. That was quite an amazing process to see up close!

Southern Maryland Audubon provided three fully paid scholarships to different programs at the camp this summer. Jan earned the adult birding scholarship. Two other scholarships were awarded to an educator and a high school student.

Jan captured this shot of a beautiful Magnolia being banded.

If you’d like to apply for one of our 2024 scholarships for next summer’s Audubon Hog Island camps, stay tuned to our website

Port Tobacco River Park Bluebird Trail Update

Since the story about the Port Tobacco River Park Bluebird Trail in the June edition of the Osprey, the tallies for the trail continue to grow.

As of 6/25/2023, there have been 28 Bluebirds fledged and another 14 young and 4 eggs still in the boxes. Three boxes are currently on, and one has completed, their second broods. In addition, at least 3 Tree Swallows have fledged this past week. Photo by Rebecca Turner.

As mentioned above, there was unexpected, but welcome, residents on the Bluebird Trail. Tree Swallows built a nest and laid eggs in one of the boxes. The increase in Bluebird trails nationwide has also helped the Tree Swallow population. The males arrive first early in the season to select a nesting site. Pairs are not lifelong partners; they will select different mates each year. Tree Swallows lay 4-7 eggs that are pale pink to white. The Port Tobacco trail box had at least three eggs that could be counted. The nest cup appears to be a loose version of a Bluebird nest cup with a little extra something. After the eggs are laid, the parents place feathers of other birds gently over the eggs. For this reason, we are not exactly sure of the number of eggs laid. Look closely at the picture to see a second Tree Sparrow flying back to the box. Photo by John Posey.

Photo by John Posey

Members of Southern Maryland Audubon Shelly Posey (left) and Rebecca Turner (right) are monitoring the boxes weekly to assess the health of the hatchlings, remedy problems and track the hatchling development for fledge time. Recently, ants were discovered at several boxes but dealt with quickly. Photo by John Posey.

If you would like to become a monitor, please email

Look for final tallies to be published at the end of this season.

Check out our new Logo!

Southern Maryland Audubon has a new look!

Our bold new logo features our region’s iconic Osprey set against a brilliant sun. The updated logo was chosen in a vote of our membership at our 2023 Annual Membership Meeting and Picnic.

Olivia Lunger, 23, an illustrator based in Providence, RI created the new logo. A native of Bethlehem, PA, Olivia specializes in editorial illustration and print design. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.

“I was inspired by the black, white and yellow color scheme matching Maryland’s flag,” Olivia said. “I wanted to use those bold colors to highlight the Osprey’s sharp, dignified silhouette against the sun.” Olivia visited Southern Maryland last summer and had the chance to meet some of our Ospreys up close and personal.

You’ll see our new logo on all our social media platforms, website and other communications.

SMAS logo and photo by Olivia Lunger.

Eagle Cam Family Thriving

pulled from the PT Eagle Cam, this pic pulled from FB and cropped slighly.

Hope and Chandler, the Bald Eagles whose nest is in the eye of our eagle camera at Port Tobacco River Park, have raised three offspring this year—a highly successful brood. In the picture above, the eagle cam captures three young eagles “branching,” or venturing out of their nest onto a nearby branch.

The eagle parents are now teaching their growing eaglets to hunt, fish and support themselves as they venture out. But like the teenagers they are, the three continue to spend time in their massive nest where Hope and Chandler still bring them fish and other fare. They are expected to leave the nest for good by summer’s end.

It will be another four or five years before they become fully mature and sport the snowy white head and tail so distinctive to Bald Eagles.

The Chesapeake Bay area supports one of the most productive eagle populations in the species range. Our rate of three-chick broods is one of the highest in the country. Hope and Chandler are doing their part to keep our statistics high!

All three eggs laid in early February hatched in mid March.

Southern Maryland Audubon thanks Charles County Recreation, Parks & Tourism and Wild Streaming for their support in providing a peek into this Bald Eagle nest. You can watch the eagle family live at the bottom of this home page at

St. Mary’s teacher awarded Southern MD Audubon ‘Conservationist of the Year’

Dorothy Birch with her “Conservationist of the Year 2023 Award” presented by Southern Maryland Audubon Conservation Chair Robert Lukinic (left) and President Molly Moore (right) Credit: John Anderson

Southern Maryland Audubon has named St. Mary’s Public School teacher Dorothy Birch “Conservationist of the Year 2023” for her outstanding work training the future generation of conservationists.

Birch teaches and directs the Natural Resources Management program for high school students at Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown.

“Dorothy has led this forward-thinking program for the past four years, training and inspiring our future conservationists, biologists, zoologists, landscape designers and others in fields where they will be instrumental in making their communities and the planet better places to thrive,” Robert Lukinic, Southern Maryland Audubon’s conservation chair, said in announcing the award.

Each year for the past two decades, Southern Maryland Audubon has awarded the “Conservationist of the Year” to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to conservation in Southern Maryland and beyond. It is the highest honor the organization awards.

“We can’t think of any mission more important than training our future generation of conservationists,” said Lukinic. “And no one is doing it better than Dorothy Birch.”

The Natural Resources Management program is a two-year curriculum for St. Mary’s high school students and covers a range of environmental, conservation and sustainability subjects in addition to providing hands-on experience.

Students also participate in community service activities.  This past year students learned to harvest native seeds and grow seedlings. They planted them in the “Front Yard” native plant garden at the St. Mary’s Public Library in Leonardtown.

Birch has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in environmental education. She has observed and taught nature and the environment in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Maryland. Birch is also a trained Master Naturalist in both Maryland and Virginia.

2023 Annual Meeting & Picnic

Photo is courtesy of Historic Sotterley.
Historic Sotterley, Photo by permission of Historic Sotterley

Please join us Sunday, June 4, from 1-4 p.m. for Southern Maryland Audubon’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Picnic at gorgeous Historic Sotterley in St. Mary’s County.

We’ll have it all: good food, fun fellowship, a native plant sale, elections, and a bird walk. And you’ll meet our Conservationist of the Year.

The meeting will be at the open-air Riverside Pavilion on a secluded bluff overlooking Sotterley Creek and the Patuxent River. This is one of our loveliest meeting venues and best bird walks with the varied habitat and nature trails this location offers.

Meeting is open to all. Only Southern Maryland Audubon members will be permitted to vote in the elections and choice of a new chapter logo.

Here is the schedule:

  • 1:00-2:15 p.m. Potluck Lunch
  • 2:15-3:00 p.m. Welcome, Award Presentations & Elections
  • 3:00-4:00 p.m. Bird Walk

Directions to Historic Sotterley in St. Mary’s County:

  • 144300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD 20636
  • From MD Rt. 235 go north onto MD 245, Sotterley Road. Turn right onto Sotterley Lane. Follow signs to the Riverside Pavilion.
  • Parking is available.

2023 Eagle Nest Cam Season Begins!

Tune in for a new season of Bald Eagle chat via YouTube at Do the eagles chat with visitors? Sadly, no, but our experts can answer your questions while you watch real-time nesting action!

The stars, Hope and Chandler, have returned to Port Tobacco River Park each year since this cam went live in 2019. Beginning Tuesday, January 31, join the chat sessions twice weekly, Tuesday mornings (for eagle breakfast, or “breakfish”) from 8:00 to 9:00 and Friday evenings from 4:00 to 5:00 (Eastern Standard Time). Hope has historically laid the first eggs in early February, so we could witness “eggcitement” soon!

The Port Tobacco River Park nest cam depicts wild Bald Eagles. Please know that there are scenarios that some viewers may find difficult to watch. Interactions with other wildlife, sibling rivalry, and weather can impact the eggs and/or eaglets. While we hope for a successful season, remember, anything could happen. Nesting success at this location has varied. In 2019 and 2020, two eaglets fledged, but in 2021 no chicks survived. Last year, one fledged.

This nest cam was installed and is maintained by Wild Streaming, which hosts other nests at For links to more nest cams around the world, see the SMAS Nest Cam page at

Winter Sowing Workshop Success

Photo by Bill Smith (SMAS)
Happy Sowers from January 2023’s Winter Sowing Workshop – Photo by Bill Smith

Gardening in the dead of winter?  What could be more fun or unexpected?

A full house of very enthusiastic new winter sowers planted more than 60 jugs of native plant seeds at our wildly successful January workshop, “All the Dirt on Winter Sowing Native Plants.” Next spring when the seeds germinate, hundreds of new natives will be planted in gardens across Southern Maryland providing critical food and shelter for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.

Southern Maryland Audubon partnered with Charles County Master Gardeners to teach this cheap and easy way to grow native plants from seeds. (Because we all know it can be expensive to buy natives!)

The technique is very simple: Punch holes in the bottom of a plastic container, take the cap off, cut it open around the middle, fill the bottom with moistened soilless potting mix, sprinkle seeds on top, water, seal the jug with tape and set it outside in the cold, rain and sleet until the seeds sprout in spring. Mother Nature tells the seeds when to germinate. We show you the process step-by-step in our video “Winter Sowing: How to grow your Own Natives for Birds and Beauty” on this website at

The seeds used in our workshop were harvested from the Master Gardener demonstration garden in front of historic Bel Alton High School in southern Charles County and included Common Milkweed, Common Evening Primrose, Orange Coneflower, Blue Wood Aster and many more.

An audience of all ages participated from Charles, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties. The workshop drew members of the public, Auduboners, Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists—all who share a passion for promoting the importance of native plants for birds, wildlife and people.

Southern Maryland Audubon President Molly Moore and member Marlene Smith, who are both avid winter sowers, led the workshop. Both are also Charles County Master Gardeners.

A shoutout to Wee Bean Coffee Roasters in LaPlata for donating dozens of recycled milk jugs.

Audubon member and St. Mary’s County Master Gardener Bill Smith took the photo of the happy winter sowers above.