At a Glance

Hours:  Open 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, year-round; no entry after 3 pm. Closed every Monday, on any major holiday, and for certain weather conditions such as heat advisories, inclement weather, or air quality advisories. The Butterfly House is normally open from June until the end of September (weather dependent), on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays, 11 am – 3 pm.

Cost: As of June 2020: free for members. Non-Members: $5 per person, except children 5 and under are free. Donations are appreciated and annual memberships are available. Advance visit registration is encouraged for non-members; see https://explorenature.doubleknot.com/facility/irvine-general-admission/2687250.

Tips:  No dogs or bikes allowed. ◾ Trails can be muddy and wet; waterproof boots are recommended. ◾ The wetlands are seasonal, so dry, warm weather reduces bird diversity. ◾ Restrooms are located along the Old Farm Lane on the way to the Bluebird Meadow and along Caves Woods Road on the way to the Sunflower Meadow. See trail map at link at left.

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring. Summer for blooming native plants.

Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Reisterstown CE

Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club

Irvine Nature Center

11210 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117 
(443) 738-9200

Located northwest of the City of Baltimore, Irvine Nature Center is a private, non-profit nature education center that offers free public access to its 210 acres, consisting mainly of meadows, wetlands, and deciduous woods. Trails of dirt or mowed grass wind through the property. One walks down a hill to reach the meadows and wetlands—other than that, the terrain is flat. The excellent trail system takes visitors through a diversity of habitats. Wetlands and streamside thickets are the best spots to look for sparrows and other passerines.  The Woodland Garden features more than a hundred species of shade-loving native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns and grasses, all protected from deer by a surrounding fence. The Woodland Garden is maintained with the help of volunteers from the St. George’s Garden Club.

The Nature Center offers extensive programming, with over 90,000 children and adults served annually. Facilities include an open-air amphitheatre, a Butterfly House, an aviary, an outdoor classroom, and demonstration gardens. The Nature Center also has extensive exhibits featuring live animals native to the Piedmont.

Birdlife:

Over 185 species of birds have been reported on eBird from Irvine Nature Center. Birding can be very good in the colder months. Irvine is one of the best places in greater Baltimore to look for American Tree Sparrow; other sparrows that are often seen are Song, Swamp, Field, Savannah, Fox, Dark-eyed Junco, and Eastern Towhee. Occasionally a true rarity such as LeConte’s Sparrow appears. Also in the colder months, check the wetlands for Wilson’s Snipe. Raptors are easy to spot in the open habitat. American Kestrel (summer and migration), Red-Tailed Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, and Northern Harrier are fairly common. Great Horned Owl has nested.

Wheelchair Access:

The visitor center and exhibit hall is fully accessible. The trails are unpaved, but some trails may be navigable by some wheelchairs. Ask at the visitor center or call ahead for accessibility details.

Pet Policy:

No dogs allowed.

Special Designations:

Irvine Nature Center is a certified Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Green Center;.

Special Features:

Irvine Nature Center offers an extensive series of nature education programs for children and adults. The Nature Center houses 24 different species of live animals indoors, including some that were donated and that are unable to sustain themselves in the wild. The Nature Store stocks nature-related items, including bird seed. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Baltimore Bird Club. The Baltimore Bird Club is the founding chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and remains an important hub of birding activity in the state. The club offers monthly meetings with informative presentations and a full schedule of field trips and bird walks, all free and open to the public.

Multimedia:  

Irvine Nature Center hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WYPR (88.1 FM, out of Baltimore). The show, called “The Nature of Things,” offers an eco-friendly perspective on everything from our changing seasons to the sounds of our migrating birds to the plants invading our yards, fields and forests.  Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 4:44 pm.  Some of the past shows are available as on-demand podcasts through the WYPR website or through the National Public Radio podcast directory at https://www.npr.org/podcasts/556684737/the-nature-of-things-on-w-y-p-r. Tip: The radio shows are very kid-friendly and engaging for all ages. They make for good family listening.

Parking:

Paved parking lot near the Nature Center; no fee. See Trail Map at link at left.

Directions:

From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695, take Exit 20 and go north on MD Route 140/Reisterstown Road. Turn right (east) on MD Route 130/Greenspring Valley Road, then left (north) for 2.1 miles on Garrison Forest Road. The entrance will be on your right.

Nearby Sites:

Soldiers Delight; Druid Hill Park; Lake Roland; Cylburn Arboretum; Milford Mill Park; Liberty Reservoir CWMA.

Habitats:

Upland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumSuburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBird Feeding StationFree - No Entry FeeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingRestroomsYoung People / Families

Type:

Gardens & ArboretaMAEOE Green CenterNature CentersPrivate Sanctuaries and Preserves