Harford Glen Environmental Education Center
502 West Wheel Road, Bel Air, MD 21015 (410) 638-3903
Harford Glen Environmental Education Center is located in Harford County, south of the city of Bel Air. The Center serves as the environmental education facility for the Harford County Public Schools. The grounds, consisting of approximately 340 acres, are notable for a large freshwater lake, Atkisson Reservoir, created by the construction of a dam by the U.S. Army during World War II. Most of the surrounding land was ceded by the federal government to the Harford County Board of Education and developed to support environmental education. A small portion of the property was originally an MOS Sanctuary known as Tum Suden, received as a bequest from Dr. Caroline tum Suden; this property, which adjoins Harford Glen, was transferred from MOS to the Harford Glen Environmental Education Center in 1994.
The tract consists of upland woods, coniferous woods, open fields, two major streams (Winters Run and Plum Tree Run), numerous smaller tributaries, marsh, and open water. Improvements include the original mansion house, a dining hall, two dormitories, classrooms, pavilion, restrooms, and shower facilities. The habitats are representative of the Piedmont region of north central Maryland. As a habitat “island” in an area of suburban development, Harford Glen is a hotspot for migrants and vagrants, typically during migration and the warmer months.
The property hosts the main operations of the Harford Glen Ornithological Observatory (http://www.hgoo.org/index.php), a group of volunteers dedicated to furthering knowledge about birds through trapping and banding the species that live in and pass through Harford Glen, and to educate the children attending environmental education classes about the importance of birds as an indicator of the status of our environment. The Observatory has collected over 30 years worth of banding data, having banded 23,535 birds of 124 species between 1980 and the end of 2015. So that children can learn from the process, banding is scheduled during school days when the facility is closed to the public, but it is possible to request permission to visit Harford Glen while banding is in progress. Contact the Ornithological Observatory staffers to request permission to visit during school days (telephone (410) 679-6419 or use the request form at http://www.hgoo.org/contact.php). Spring and fall banding is conducted on select weekends for migration monitoring; this schedule can also be obtained by contacting the Ornithological Observatory.
Over 200 species have been reported on eBird at Harford Glen, representing those normally found in upland woodland and riparian habitats of the Piedmont, along with a few unexpected visitors. Year-round residents include Canada Goose; Mallard; Great Blue Heron; Black and Turkey Vultures; Cooper’s Hawk; Bald Eagle; Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks; Killdeer; Great Horned and Barred Owls; Mourning Dove; Belted Kingfisher; Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Northern Flicker; Blue Jay; American and Fish Crows; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; White-breasted Nuthatch; Carolina Wren; Eastern Bluebird; American Robin; Northern Mockingbird; European Starling; Song Sparrow; Eastern Towhee; Northern Cardinal; Red-winged Blackbird; Common Grackle; House Finch; American Goldfinch; and House Sparrow.
Notable birds in the warm months include breeding Wood Duck; Great Egret; Little Blue Heron; Green Heron; Osprey; Chimney Swift; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; House Wren; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Wood Thrush; Scarlet Tanager; Indigo Bunting; Blue Grosbeak; both orioles; and a variety of flycatchers, vireos, swallows, and breeding warblers such as Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow Warbler. Chipping Sparrows are also present from March through December.
Wintering species include Gadwall; American Black Duck; Green-winged Teal; Hooded Merganser; Ring-billed Gull; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Brown Creeper; both kinglets; Field, Fox, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows; and Dark-eyed Junco.
Birds commonly found in migration include Blue-winged Teal; Common Merganser; Pied-billed Grebe; Double-crested Cormorant; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Broad-winged Hawk; American Coot; Least, Spotted, and Solitary Sandpipers; both yellowlegs; Rusty Blackbird; and a variety of vireos, thrushes, and warblers.
Free parking is available within the grounds. See trail map at link at left.
The grounds include a marsh boardwalk trail and a bird banding station. See information above for arranging a visit to the banding station. ◾ Harford Glen Environmental Education Center is a certified Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Green Center. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Harford Bird Club.
From the Baltimore area: From I-95 Northbound, take Exit 77 B and merge onto MD Route 24 (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway) North toward Bel Air. Opposite the Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center, turn left (west) onto West Wheel Road. Pass through one roundabout to continue on West Wheel Road. The road will bring you directly into Harford Glen.
From the north: Take I-95 southbound, crossing the Susquehanna River over the Millard Tydings Memorial Bridge (toll). Take Exit 77 B and merge onto MD Route 24 (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway) North toward Bel Air. Opposite the Festival at Bel Air Shopping Center, turn left (west) onto West Wheel Road. Pass through one roundabout to continue on West Wheel Road. The road will bring you directly into Harford Glen.
Nearby Sites: Rocks State Park; Anita C. Leight Estuary Center; Perryman & Forest Green Area; Tydings Memorial Park and Havre de Grace Marina; Swan Harbor Farm; Susquehanna State Park; Conowingo Dam/Fisherman’s Landing (Harford County Side); Bradenbaugh Flats & Upper Deer Creek Valley.
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseSuburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
BeginnersBird Feeding StationBoardwalkFree - No Entry FeeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
MAEOE Green CenterNature CentersPrivate Sanctuaries and Preserves