Carey Run MOS Sanctuary
160 Carey Run Road, Frostburg, MD 21532
Carey Run MOS Sanctuary was the first property to be purchased by the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS), which now owns ten sanctuaries across the state. The original purchase in 1962 was a 52-acre farm, complete with a farmhouse, which had been abandoned for several years. In 1973, MOS purchased another 110 acres, bringing Carey Run to its current size of 162 acres.
The sanctuary is located in eastern Garrett County and is named for the stream, Carey Run, which flows through the property. Carey Run is a tributary of the Savage River and joins the river just outside the entrance to the sanctuary. Another stream, Hefner Run, flows into Carey Run within the sanctuary. The two stream valleys form a Y-shape that cradles the old farmhouse, built in 1887 from white pines grown on the property. A small freshwater pond, formed by damming Carey Run, is located a short distance from the house. The original dam was man-made but beavers occasionally assist in dam remodeling. There are also river otters at Carey Run, as well as black bear and coyotes.
Carey Run has diverse plant communities. The majority of land is covered by mixed deciduous forest interspersed with Eastern Hemlock groves. The sanctuary also holds plantations of white pine and Douglas fir, planted when these species were important timber crops. There is a small meadow near the house; a large field and hedgerow combination, along with an old orchard, at the northwest border; and a set of wildlife hedges and grassy meadows in the southwest corner. The fields and meadows are mown once annually to maintain good habitat for a diverse assortment of grassland birds as well as for pollinators.
The many trails at Carey Run guide visitors through each of its habitats. See the trail map at the link at left. The Old Braddock Road, which runs along the Sanctuary’s southern border, has significant historical importance as the route created by General Braddock’s troops during the French and Indian War in the mid-1700s. Interpretive signage marks the nature trail that parallels the historic road; the placards present a unique interweaving of the military history of the war, the natural history of the land, and the use of the land and its resources by the indigenous Native Americans. The trail and its signage were created by T.C. Hager as an Eagle Scout project.
Carey Run has an extensive bluebird nest box trail, which is maintained and monitored by local MOS members and by students from Frostburg State University. Research on use of the nest boxes by bluebirds and other cavity nesters has been conducted by Professor William Devlin (now retired) and his students since the late 1960s. Carey Run formerly hosted a bird banding station, run by a changing set of volunteer banders for many years. Records indicate that over 68 species were banded on the sanctuary.
Carey Run occasionally hosts large gatherings, including an annual youth nature camp organized by MOS member Chuck Hager. The sanctuary also hosts annual work days each spring, and periodic blitzes by teams of naturalists who perform biological surveys of the flora and fauna. If you wish to participate in a workday or a bioblitz, please contact Sanctuary Committee Chair Dominic Nucifora ( firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Carey Run farmhouse is available from spring through fall for overnight stays by individuals or organized groups engaging in natural history projects. The house has a modernized kitchen, three bedrooms with bunk beds, and a small parlor, and is heated with two wood stoves. Advance reservations are necessary. If you wish to stay at the house, see https://mdbirds.org/conservation/refuges-sanctuaries/carey-run/ for more details.
For further reading on Carey Run MOS Sanctuary, see a selected list of published articles.
Over 140 bird species have been reported on eBird at Carey Run MOS Sanctuary, and there are 167 species on the official checklist maintained by MOS.
Carey Run is especially vibrant during spring and fall migration, when thrushes, warblers, flycatchers, and sparrows come pouring through. In addition, the sanctuary and its immediate vicinity host a number of significant breeding species, as identified by the First and Second Breeding Bird Atlas for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Confirmed breeders include Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-shinned Hawk, American Woodcock, Barred Owl, Alder Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and Purple Finch.
The trails and house are not wheelchair accessible. But there is good birding on the driveway to the house and near the house, allowing those who are mobility-impaired to bird from or near a car. The driveway north of the house leads through a hemlock grove and then to fields and hedgerows, offering further birding, but a 4-wheel drive car with high clearance is needed and even then, only recommended in dry weather when the driveway is not muddy. ◾ As described above, the house at Carey Run is available for overnight stays. See above and details at https://mdbirds.org/conservation/refuges-sanctuaries/carey-run/#toggle-id-1. ◾ Picnicking is allowed on the grounds. There are two picnic tables near the house. ◾ Carey Run MOS Sanctuary is immediately adjacent to the Savage River Important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audubon Society. The Savage River IBA encompasses over 120,000 acres, mostly within Savage River State Forest. ◾ Carey Run is a good place to look for lepidoptera, odonates, other insects, reptiles and amphibians, native plants, fungi, lichens, and more. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Allegany & Garrett Counties Bird Club, which hosts activities from time to time at Carey Run MOS Sanctuary. MOS holds annual work weekends; an annual summer youth nature camp; and occasional group events such as bioblitzes.
A short video “A Closer Look – Carey Run” takes you on a quick tour of the sanctuary, featuring footage of the beautiful habitats at Carey Run, including some overhead footage shot from a drone. Also shown are the volunteers who dedicate their time to caring for the sanctuary and its historic house.
Small gravel parking area for 2 cars outside of locked entrance gate; parking on grassy lawn near house for 12+ cars.
From I-68 in Garrett County, take Exit 29 for MD Route 546/Finzel Road and Beall School Road. Turn south onto Beall School Road. Continue south on Beall School Road for about 1 mile to a T-intersection. Turn right to go west on Old Frostburg Road. In 1⁄4 mile, at a fork in the road, bear right to continue west on Old Frostburg Road. In 1⁄2 mile, at another fork, turn right onto Carey Run Road and follow around a bend to the right, going over the bridge over the Savage River. On the other side of the bridge, turn left. Then make a quick right into the gravel lane leading to the Sanctuary. There will be a yellow No Hunting sign on a large post on the right. Continue down the lane to the gated entrance to the Sanctuary. If you have the combination to the gate lock, open the gate and drive to the house, where you can park on the adjacent lawn. Otherwise, park outside the gate and walk in.
Finzel Swamp; Piney Reservoir.
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
Bird Feeding StationCampingFree - No Entry FeeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewYoung People / Families