At a Glance


Cost: Free.

Tips:  Bring a scope. ◾ Be prepared for ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes during the summer months. ◾ The Refuge has six trails, of which three are accessible by wheelchair, and there is also birding available from paved roads. ◾ Visitors must stay on designated roads and trails. ◾ Bikes are allowed on roads but are not permitted on foot-trails.◾ Pets are allowed on the refuge, and must be kept at all times on a hand-held leash of 6-feet or less. Please clean up after your pet and dispose of trash properly. ◾ Part or all of the Refuge may be closed for deer management during hunting season. See the Refuge’s hunting page for more information. ◾ Restrooms are available at several locations; see trail map at link below.

Best Seasons: Year-round.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Langford Creek CW, Langford Creek SW

Local MOS Chapter: Kent County Bird Club

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

7319 Remington Drive, Chestertown, MD 21620
(410) 639-7056

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is one of the premier sites for waterfowl viewing on the Eastern Shore. Established in 1962 as a sanctuary for migratory birds, the Refuge is managed as part of the Chesapeake Marshlands NWR complex. Most of the 2,285-acre refuge is located on an island along the shores of the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay, and is composed of tidal marsh, upland forest, and grasslands. Upland areas provide good habitat for passerines, and birding can be particularly productive during spring and fall migration.

Six different trails and several vehicle pull-offs provide expansive views of the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. A pollinator garden overlooking the Bay provides good butterfly viewing opportunities.  The strategic location and outstanding habitat diversity combine to make Eastern Neck NWR the #1 eBird hotspot in Kent County.


Over 270 species have been reported on eBird from Eastern Neck NWR as a whole and the official checklist of Eastern Neck NWR includes 289 species.

There are 10 eBird hotspots within Eastern Neck NWR:

The Refuge is a major feeding and resting place for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Refuge staff have documented peak numbers of more than 50,000 waterfowl of 33 different species on and near the refuge. The most common species include Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, Lesser Scaup, and Mallard. Other waterfowl species include American Black Duck, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, Green- and Blue-winged Teal, all three mergansers, American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Long-tailed Duck, and scoters. Loons and grebes can be viewed on the Chester River. Tundra Swans visit the refuge starting in late November before migrating about 4,000 miles northward in March. Bald Eagles, present year-round, commence nest-building in January and American Woodcocks perform courtship displays in February and March.Check the Refuge’s Birding page for results of weekly winter waterfowl surveys.

Although known for its wintering waterfowl, Eastern Neck is also interesting in spring and summer, when it hosts herons and egrets, rails, shorebirds, terns, and swallows. Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, and Great and Snowy Egrets occur in the tidal flats and marshes of the refuge along with Virginia and, rarely now, Black Rails. Numerous shorebirds including Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Least, Spotted, and Semipalmated Sandpipers can be observed at various times throughout the year.

Songbird migration peaks in late April/early May and the earliest waterfowl migrants arrive from the north in August/September, with southbound songbird migration peaking in late September to October.

Wheelchair Accessibility:

For those who are mobility-impaired, Eastern Neck offers good birding from the car or near the car, using the road network within the Refuge. There is good barrier-free viewing at Bogle’s Wharf Landing and several other locations. The Tidal Marsh Trail, the Tubby Cove Boardwalk Trail, and parts of the Bayview Butterfly Trail are wheelchair-accessible, as are the Visitor Center and restrooms. See the Refuge’s Trails page for more information.

Pet Policy: 

Pets are allowed on the refuge, and must be kept at all times on a hand-held leash of 6-feet or less. Please clean up after your pet and dispose of trash properly.

Special Designations:

Eastern Neck NWR is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ Eastern Neck NWR is the focal point of the Eastern Neck Important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audubon Society.

Special Features:

During the winter months, volunteers at the Refuge conduct weekly waterfowl surveys; the results of these surveys are available on the Refuge’s Birding page.

The Bayview Butterfly Garden is located on a knoll looking out over the Bay, and is lushly landscaped with native plants. ◾ A paddler’s map for the Eastern Neck Island Water Trail is available at the Visitor Center. The 10-mile long water trail starts at Bogle’s Wharf and circles the entire Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and connects scenic, historic and wetland restoration sites located around the island. ◾ The Refuge’s History Brochure describes the history of Eastern Neck Island back to prehistoric times.

The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Kent County Bird Club, which offers field trips and meeting programs that are open to the public, free of charge.


A Voice for the Rivers is a special episode of Outdoors Maryland from Maryland Public Television that focuses on the work of the riverkeepers in safeguarding and working to improve the health of the major rivers of the Upper Eastern Shore: the Sassafras, the Wye, the Miles, the Chester, and the Choptank. There is beautiful footage of the open waters, marshlands, and shoreline forests, as well as discussion of the challenges of pollution and sea level rise.


Free. Gravel lots located throughout. See trail map at link at left for locations.


From Chestertown in Kent County: Follow MD Route 20 west and then south into Rock Hall. Turn left (south) at flashing light onto Main Street/MD Route 445. Go south 8 miles to the bridge over the Chester River and cross the bridge to enter the refuge. There is a pull-off near the bridge where waterfowl can be viewed in winter and terns and shorebirds in spring/summer. See trail map at link at left for other viewing locations.

Nearby Sites:

Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp ◾ Terrapin Nature Park ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area


Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh


BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Bird Feeding StationBirding By CarBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeGift Shop or BookstoreHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families


#1 Hotspot in County or CityAudubon Important Bird AreasChesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreChesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkDriving Tour (Roadside Birding)Hiker-Biker Trails (Paved)National Wildlife RefugesThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails