Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary
NE Corner of Marengo Road & Gregory Road, Easton, MD 21061
MOS Voice Mail: 301-588-4250
Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary is located in Talbot County near Tunis Mills on Miles River Neck, between Hunting Creek and Leeds Creek, both of which are tributaries of the Miles River. The Miles River, in turn, empties into Eastern Bay, a pocket off the eastern edge of the Chesapeake Bay just a few miles northwest of the sanctuary. Thus, the sanctuary is well situated to provide stopover habitat for birds migrating up and down the Bay and to provide viewing opportunities for flyover water birds.
Despite all the water nearby, the 49-acre Marengo Woods Sanctuary does not contain any flowing streams: the land is flat, with no streambeds or ravines, but there are several large depressions that hold water after rains and these spots can remain wet for long periods, supporting populations of amphibians and insects. Satellite images suggest that these depressions may be the remnant headwaters of streams that were drained or diverted long ago to make agricultural land. Evidence of past ditching efforts is also present.
The entire sanctuary is in a mid-to-late successional natural regeneration stage following timber harvesting that persisted until the mid-1980’s. Predominant tree species include loblolly pine, sweet gum, and red maple. Oaks, including white oak, and hollies are also present, as well as tupelo and dogwood. Most of the deciduous trees are located near the perimeter of the sanctuary, where there is more light available. Highbush blueberry and sweet pepperbush are present in the shrub layer, again mostly on the sanctuary borders.
The traces of old, abandoned logging roads can be found in the woods, but there are no blazed or maintained trails, nor is there a designated parking area (see below for parking suggestions). Despite the lack of blazed trails, the interior of the sanctuary provides easy walking, as the understory is mostly open. The ground is blanketed with a thick layer of pine needles, and the scent of pine is pervasive.
Given the lack of trails, we cannot provide a detailed walking route; the way to bird the sanctuary is simply to penetrate through the shrubs and trees along the edges on Marengo or Gregory Road, and then to walk about in the interior. A good plan might be to enter the woods at the stone marker at the corner of Marengo and Gregory Roads and to walk a roughly clockwise route through the interior of the sanctuary. It’s small enough that you won’t get lost. Don’t forget to spend some time under the open sky to watch for flyover birds, and to check the adjacent agricultural areas for field birds.
In 1989, a group of local landowners donated this parcel to the Maryland Ornithological Society in memory of Margaret Shortall and Herbert Austin in order to preserve it further logging. A stone monument commemorating the donation is situated at the entrance to the Sanctuary at the corner of Marengo and Gregory Roads.
To further protect Marengo Woods, the Maryland Ornithological Society placed the sanctuary under a conservation easement with the Maryland Environmental Trust in 1990. The Marengo Woods Sanctuary is now part of a swath of over 1,600 acres running through the heart of the Miles River Neck that has been protected by the Maryland Environmental Trust.
The protected lands include over 1,400 acres of forest on Miles River Neck, including about 1,200 acres that are contiguous to Marengo Woods. These woodlands have been identified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as being important for support of Forest Interior Dwelling Species. Thus Marengo Woods is part of a larger landscape that provides important wildlife habitat.
Note that Pickering Creek Audubon Sanctuary is only about 4 miles away, and Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary is about 9 miles away, as the crow flies. These two spots combine well with Marengo Woods to make a day of birding.
The eBird hotspot for Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary lists only 43 species of birds as of Fall 2020, but the hotspot was not established until 2017 and only 10 checklists have been submitted since then. This sanctuary would greatly benefit from regular visitation in order to better document the birds and other species present. We encourage you to visit and submit your checklists to eBird at https://ebird.org/hotspot/L6076244. Please feel free to include notes on other wildlife and on plants in your checklist comments.
Anyone is welcome to enter the sanctuary during daylight hours, but note that the eBird hotspot indicates “Restricted Access” – that notation is because of the parking situation. See the Parking section below.
Canada Geese can be spotted as flyovers, and with diligence it is likely that other waterfowl will also be seen flying over on the way to nearby waterways. Likewise, Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls and Great-Blue and Green Herons are present as flyovers.
Neither Northern Bobwhite or Wild Turkey are on the eBird list for the sanctuary, but both were confirmed breeders in this Atlas block during the first or second Atlas projects, so keep your eyes and ears open for them.
Killdeer can be found in the adjacent fields, for example on the south side of Marengo Road. Also be alert for Horned Larks in the fields.
In the raptor department, expect Black and Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Bald Eagle, and Red-tailed Hawk. These might be seen overhead as well as roosting in trees in the sanctuary. A Red-shouldered Hawk would not be surprising. You might also watch for American Kestrels on the wires near farm fields. All three local owls might turn up: Great Horned, Barred, or Eastern Screech.
Year-round, woodpeckers reported from the sanctuary include Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated. There are also Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, American and Fish Crows, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Northern Mockingbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, American Goldfinches, European Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Northern Cardinals.
Summer birds have included Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Purple Martin, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting.
Wintering birds have included Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
For comparison, note that a short distance to the north, the eBird hotspot for the Tunis Mills Area lists 129 species. Many of the species from the Tunis Mills list would also be expected at Marengo Woods. Although not previously reported for the sanctuary, the following species would be likely, based on the habitat, on reports from nearby hotspots, or on Breeding Bird Atlas data; consider this your target list for future visits:
- Year-round: Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Rock Pigeon, Northern Flicker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Horned Lark, House Sparrow, House Finch, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee.
- Breeding season: Chuck Will’s Widow (probable breeder in this Atlas block). Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Woodcock, Cooper’s Hawk, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager.
- Winter: a variety of flyover waterfowl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, House Wren, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow.
Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times and you must pick up after your pet.
Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary is not wheelchair-accessible..
Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary is protected under a conservation easement held by the Maryland Environmental Trust.
The sanctuary is in an area categorized by the MD Department of Natural Resources as a Green Infrastructure Wildlife Hub. Green Infrastructure identifies the State’s remaining large blocks of forest and wetlands (hubs) and the habitat pathways (corridors) that connect them. For more information on how DNR prioritizes land for conservation, see https://dnr.maryland.gov/land/Documents/GreenPrint-lands-are-important.pdf.
Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary is located in an area classified by MD DNR as Tier 3 – Highly Significant for Biodiversity Conservation under their Bionet – Biological Diversity Conservation Network initiative.
MD DNR also offers a Parcel Evaluation Tool that provides an analysis of conservation benefits for a particular parcel of land. Using this tool, Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary scores
- 5 stars out of 5 for providing “Habitat Connectivity.”
- 5 stars out of 5 for providing “Rare Species and Wildlife Habitat.”
- 3 stars out of 5 for “Support of Aquatic Life.”
- 3 stars out of 5 for “Forests Important for Water Quality Protection.”
- 3 stars out of 5 for “Coastal Community Resiliency; ” these are areas near the shoreline where natural habitats, such as marshes and coastal forests, have the potential to reduce the impact of coastal hazards to the adjacent coastal communities by dampening waves, stabilizing sediment, and absorbing water.
- 5 stars out of 5 for “Proximity to Other Protected Land,” presenting conservation opportunities that contribute to landscape scale protection which is key for conserving healthy aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Public boat launches are located near the near the Marengo Woods Sanctuary in Tunis Mills at the bridge over Leeds Creek and at the southeast end of the Miles River Bridge on MD Route370. Both of these locations also provide good spots for a quick birding stop. See the MD Department of Natural Resources Public Water Access Interactive Map for details.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Talbot Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
MOS has a brief YouTube video that offers an introduction to Marengo Woods Sanctuary.
Parking is a challenge at Marengo Woods Sanctuary. Because of the presence of wetlands, there is no parking area at the sanctuary itself and there is no parking possible on roadside shoulders because of deep drainage ditches. The best option is to find a spot that provides access for farm equipment at a nearby agricultural field and to request permission from the farm owner to park there. In no case should you block access for equipment entering or leaving the field. Possible spots are located at the corner of Gregory and Marengo Roads, opposite the stone marker for the Marengo Woods Sanctuary, and on the south side of Marengo Road, about halfway down the length of the southern boundary of the sanctuary. It is your responsibility to obtain permission from landowners to park your car.
Alternatively you could have a friend drop you off at the sanctuary and pick you up at a designated time.
Another option, if you are a biker or don’t mind a longish walk along rural roads, is to park at the public boat launch in Tunis Mills at the bridge over Leeds Creek; there is parking there for about three cars. Then walk or bike to the sanctuary, a distance of less than 2 miles. However, be warned that the roads do not have shoulders for walking or biking and that traffic travels very fast on these two-lane roads. Both walking and biking are risky.
Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary is located near the community of Tunis Mills on the Miles River Neck, west of Easton in Talbot County. The sanctuary has a reputation for being remote and difficult to reach, but in fact it is only 5 miles from downtown Easton and can be reached by state numbered routes for most of the way. The directions given below are not necessarily the shortest routes but offer the best access.
From points north on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 301 South to MD Route 213, then follow Route 213 south to its intersection with US Route 50. Continue on US Route 50 south to the outskirts of Easton. After passing the Easton Airport on the right, take MD Route 322 westbound for approximately 2 miles, then turn right to go west on MD Route 33. Follow Route 33 for 1.7 miles and turn right to go north on MD Route 370/Unionville Road. Follow Unionville Road north for 1.5 miles, crossing the Miles River. At the first crossroad after the Miles River Bridge, turn left to go southwest on Miles River Road. In just under 0.4 miles, at the first road on the right, turn right onto Marengo Road. The sanctuary will be on your right at the corner of Marengo and Gregory Roads, in 1.8 miles. Seek parking as described above.
From points south on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 50 north toward Easton. Just before reaching Easton, bear left to go north on MD Route 322 for approximately 3 miles, then turn left to go west on MD Route 33. Follow Route 33 for 1.7 miles and turn right to go north on MD Route 370/Unionville Road. Follow Unionville Road north for 1.5 miles, crossing the Miles River. At the first crossroad after the Miles River Bridge, turn left to go southwest on Miles River Road. In just under 0.4 miles, at the first road on the right, turn right onto Marengo Road. The sanctuary will be on your right at the corner of Marengo and Gregory Roads, in 1.8 miles. Seek parking as described above.
From the Wester Shore via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Take US Route 50 east and then south and stay on Route 50, passing by MD Routes 213 and 404. Continue on US Route 50 south to the outskirts of Easton. After passing the Easton Airport on the right, take MD Route 322 westbound for approximately 2 miles, then turn right to go west on MD Route 33. Follow Route 33 for 1.7 miles and turn right to go north on MD Route 370/Unionville Road. Follow Unionville Road north for 1.5 miles, crossing the Miles River. At the first crossroad after the Miles River Bridge, turn left to go southwest on Miles River Road. In just under 0.4 miles, at the first road on the right, turn right onto Marengo Road. The sanctuary will be on your right at the corner of Marengo and Gregory Roads, in 1.8 miles. Seek parking as described above.
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Pelot MOS Sanctuary ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side) ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section) ◾ Hooper’s Island ◾ Taylor’s Island
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 DeciduousConifers Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow Fields Forested Swamp
Features and Amenities:
Free - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsPets Allowed