Coastal Maryland is a unique habitat that serves as critical habitat for a number of Maryland’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need during breeding, migration, or winter. The significance of the entire coastal zone of Maryland to birds is recognized through two Globally Important Bird Areas: Assateague Island and Maryland Coastal Bays. However, Maryland’s coastal, barrier island, and back bay habitats are facing significant threats. Coastal development continues to remove or fragment near-shore habitat, and sea level rise is reducing the amount of beach habitat while also flooding coastal marshes.

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In recognition of the uniqueness of Assateague Island and nearby coastal environs, the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership established the Maryland Coastal Bird Observatory as a center of expertise to conserve birds and their habitats through a combination of science, education, and stewardship. The core activity is to establish long-term avian monitoring and education programs on coastal barrier islands and back bay areas of the Maryland coast.

The initial focus of MCBO will be starting a passerine migration banding station (spring and fall) and building capacity and a volunteer base. Future planning includes establishing a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) station.  MBCO will work in partnership with the National Park Service to identify and fulfill research and monitoring needs at Assateague Island National Seashore.

Current/planned Monitoring Programs

  • Migration Monitoring
  • Motus automated telemetry tracking stations
  • Atlantic Shorebird Conservation Plan monitoring
  • Secretive Marsh Bird Survey
  • Bald Eagle Nest Monitoring
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl and Snowy Owl banding in collaboration with Project Owlnet
  • Seabird surveys
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