Jug Bay, located near the mid-point of the 110-mile-long Patuxent River, is one of the most significant freshwater tidal wetland systems on the East Coast. It provides critical habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and has been designated as a site within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The Smithsonian Institution identified Jug Bay as one of the ten most unique ecological communities in Maryland, and it has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society. In both of Maryland’s Breeding Bird Atlas Projects (1983-1987 and 2002-2006), the area around Jug Bay recorded 120 breeding bird species, the highest number for any location in the state. Over 200 bird species are observed at Jug Bay annually, and the overall species list stands at 300.

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Jug Bay is close to Annapolis (18 miles to the northeast), Washington, DC (20 miles west), and Baltimore (35 miles north), and bestrides the highly populated counties of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s. The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is managed by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, and contains more than 1,500 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands, forests, meadows and fields.  The Jug Bay Natural Area, part of the Patuxent River Park managed by Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, completes the coverage of the entirety of Jug Bay as a protected natural area. These two entities both contribute to the banding and monitoring programs of the Jug Bay Bird Observatory.

Current Monitoring Programs

  • Winter Water Bird Survey
  • Bi-weekly Bird Phenology Survey
  • Secretive Marsh Bird Survey
  • Meadowlands Bird Survey;
  • Bald Eagle Nest Monitoring
  • Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) study (conducted at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for 28 years)
  • Wood Duck productivity
  • Eastern Bluebird productivity
  • Sora rail populations, including tracking migration patterns via the Motus automated telemetry tracking network


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