At a Glance
- Schumaker Park (nature trails, observation deck, fishing pier, and pond) open daily dawn to dusk.
- Salisbury City Park grounds, including mountain bike trails, open daily dawn to dusk.
- Hours vary for City Park amenities such as the Zoo, dog park, and sports fields. See City Park website for hours.
Cost: Schumaker Pond and Salisbury City Park grounds are free. No charge for parking.
Tips: Although the pond is relatively small, a spotting scope can be helpful for waterfowl and wading birds. ◾ Waterfowl may be present on the pond at any time during the day. ◾ Firearms are prohibited. ◾ Restrooms are located at various locations in City Park and Schumaker Park.
Best Seasons: Fall, winter, and spring.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Salisbury NW, Salisbury NE
Schumaker Pond and Salisbury City Park
Schumaker Park: 1019 S Schumaker Dr, Salisbury, MD 21804; telephone (410) 548-4900
Salisbury City Park: S Park Dr, Salisbury, MD 21804; telephone (410) 548-3177
Dr. Ron Gutberlet, Professor of Biology at Salisbury University, was the primary author of the original version
of this Birder’s Guide description of Schumaker Pond and the Ward Museum. Ron passed away in
November of 2015. He is fondly remembered by his birding friends in the Tri-County Bird Club and MOS.
Local birders have long known Schumaker Pond in the City of Salisbury as a small but vibrant birding hotspot. For about 30 years, birders and other visitors inevitably associated the pond with the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art that was housed in a modern building on the pond’s bank. However, the Ward Museum building closed in the summer of 2022; read more about the closure below.
Regardless of the absence of the Ward Museum, the 35-acre Schumaker Pond remains a good birding spot. The pond was formed by damming Beaverdam Creek, a tributary of the Wicomico River. The pond is easily accessed from Schumaker Park, an 11-acre recreation park owned by Wicomico County and located on the south shore of the pond. Schumaker Park is mostly wooded and includes its own parking area, a picnic pavilion, additional picnic tables scattered through the park, a playground, a beach, and a fishing pier. Paddling is permitted, and kayaks and canoes can be launched from the beach. Schumaker Park does not really have a trail system to speak of, but the area around the pond is open and can easily be walked. The fishing pier provides a good spot to look for birds on the water.
The area near the former Ward Museum provides good birding, boasting a short nature trail with interpretive displays and an observation platform. The bridge over the pond also provides a good vantage point for spotting birds. The bank of the pond on the far side of the bridge (opposite the museum building) features a grassy, park-like setting with no real trail, but easy walking. One can then return to the former Ward Museum building by walking along the grassy patch between the pond and Beaglin Park Road.
Schumaker Pond especially shines in fall and winter, when the pond can host large numbers of ducks of various species. Migrant land birds can occasionally be encountered in the trees around the pond in spring and fall, even though this is not a major destination for passerines. The upper end of the pond (to the southeast) gives way to bottomlands along the Beaverdam Creek; this is a nice area to explore in a kayak. See the section “Local MOS Chapter” below for information on Wednesday morning bird walks.
For additional birding opportunities, you can visit Salisbury City Park, immediately adjacent to the northwest (downstream) end of Schumaker Pond. The 95 acres of City Park stretch along Beaverdam Creek and the south prong of the Wicomico River. The park is bounded by East Main Street, Snow Hill Road, North Park Drive, South Park Drive, and Beaglin Park Drive.
Birders will be most interested in the southern part of City Park, nearest Schumaker Pond, which features a 24-acre wooded area with a network of mountain bike trails that can provide good birding in the early morning, before the bike riders arrive. The four miles of mountain bike trails are maintained by the Eastern Shore International Mountain Bicycling Association (ESIMBA) and the City of Salisbury. There is a PDF map of the mountain bike trail system in our “Printable Area Maps” set in the “At a Glance” section of this Guide, and good interactive mapping of the maze of mountain bike trails on the MTB Project website. As shown on the printable trail map, there are kiosks with trail information at the various trailheads off North Park Drive and South Park Drive, and there are several parking areas from which the trails can easily be reached.
Salisbury City Park can be a good option for families with children. The busy north end of City Park has a multitude of recreational amenities, including the Salisbury Zoo, a large picnic area, playgrounds, tennis courts, a dog park, a baseball diamond, and more. Although most of the north end of the park is developed and busy with visitors, birders may wish to walk a loop trail that follows Beaverdam Creek, passing the fountain, tennis courts, baseball field, a pavilion, and dog park on the north side of the creek. On the south shore, the trail accesses the park’s bandstand, picnic island, a playground, the Salisbury Zoo, and the baseball field. The vegetation along the loop trail can provide up close looks at birds.
Salisbury City Park is in the midst of implementing an extensive master plan to upgrade and improve its facilities. The plans include a pollinator meadow with native plants and additional plantings of native trees and shrubs.
About the Ward Museum (formerly located at Schumaker Pond):
The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art was established to preserve the high art of the Chesapeake Bay tradition of waterfowl decoy carving, as exemplified by the late Lem and Steve Ward of Crisfield, MD. From 1002 through 2022, the museum exhibits, owned by Salisbury University, were housed in the Ward Museum building at Schumaker Pond, but are being relocated to a building in downtown Salisbury because of an extensive mold problem in the building by the pond. The collection in its new location is expected to be available for public viewing by the end of 2023.
The Ward Museum building at Schumaker Pond closed in the summer of 2022 because of an HVAC system issue that led to a serious mold problem in the building and on the artwork. You can read a Chesapeake Bay Magazine article about the issues surrounding the closing of the building here, or scroll down below to read about the Ward wildfowl art collection.
The art collection includes the world’s largest public assemblage of decorative and antique waterfowl decoys, and is well worth a visit. As a birder, you may be thinking “So what? I’d rather see living birds.” Birders, if you have never visited this wildfowl art collection, you don’t know what you’re missing. The collection will take you on a deep dive into the waterfowl hunting culture and traditions of the Eastern Shore, portraying the role that waterfowl and hunting have played in people’s daily lives and the region’s economy. Moreover, the exhibits will enable you to learn about the natural history of the birds portrayed in the art, and to see details of plumage and form that you may never have noticed before. The nucleus of the collection is a set of antique and contemporary waterfowl carvings, including those from the namesake Ward Brothers Workshop.
The museum was initially established by the Ward Foundation, a private non-profit founded in 1968 to preserve the art of the Ward Brothers. Over time, ownership of the collection and the building at Schumaker Pond was transferred to Salisbury University. The Ward Foundation and Salisbury University are no longer partnering on the wildfowl art collection, which is now managed solely by the University. The Ward Foundation continues to sponsor the annual Ward World Championship, the largest bird carving competition in the world, as well as other events, and plays a role in preserving the art of decoy carving as well as the nature and traditions of the Eastern Shore.
Waterbirds are the stars of the show at Schumaker Pond. This little pond has hosted more than 25 species of ducks and geese over the years; regulars include Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Tundra Swans, Wood Ducks (local breeder), Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers, and Ruddy Ducks. In Fall 2007, a Brant and White-winged Scoter – both normally found on salt water – turned up here. Other regulars include Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot, along with an occasional Red-necked Grebe in springtime.
Spotted Sandpipers are regular from April through early September. The pond attracts Laughing Gulls in spring and summer and Ring-billed and Herring Gulls in winter and spring. Double-crested Cormorants may also be found in winter.
Some birds seen at Schumaker Pond may also be found at the adjoining Salisbury City Park. Waders include Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and Green Heron. Belted Kingfishers are readily seen. Ospreys and Bald Eagles are common; the eagles are present year-round, while the Ospreys are absent in the winter. Red-tailed Hawks also are easy to see.
The wooded areas support Northern Flicker and Red-bellied, Downy, Pileated Woodpeckers, as well as overwintering Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Expected flycatchers include Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested, and Eastern Kingbird. There are not quite enough woods to support breeding vireos, but some pass through during migration.
White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches breed locally and are present year-round, as are Carolina Wrens. House Wrens also nest locally but are absent in winter. Winter Wrens move through in November and December but are seldom found after New Year’s Day.
Blue Jays and American and Fish Crows are numerous, as are Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. Chimney Swifts, Barn Swallows, and Tree Swallows can be found over Schumaker Pond or along Beaverdam Creek from spring through early fall.
Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, and Brown Thrashers are all common, but only the mockingbirds persist through the winter. American Robins are found year-round, Hermit Thrushes overwinter, and Eastern Bluebirds are sporadic in spring and fall. Cedar Waxwings can be found almost any time of year, feeding on the berries and small fruits in the trees and shrubs around the pond or along Beaverdam Creek.
House Finches, House Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and Northern Cardinals are all numerous permanent residents. Sparrows include breeding populations of Chipping and Song and wintering populations of Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated, and maybe a few Swamp Sparrows. Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles are abundant.
The forested areas are not sufficient to support much of a breeding warbler population; nonetheless, 23 warbler species have been reported at the City Park and/or Schumaker Pond, mostly during spring and fall migration. Pine Warblers are a confirmed breeder in the area, and Yellow-rumped Warblers are reliable in winter.
The former Ward Museum parking lot is paved and has reserved handicapped parking spaces. The parking lots at Schumaker Park are also paved. Most of the trails around Schumaker Pond are hard-packed dirt, but are narrow and would be difficult for most wheelchair users. The Urban Greenway loop trail that circles Beaverdam Creek in Salisbury City Park is hard-packed stone dust and offers a smooth surface for wheelchairs. There are also paved sidewalks through the developed areas of City Park. The mountain bike trails at the south end of City Park are not wheelchair accessible. See the “Printable Area Maps” set in the “At a Glance” section of this Birder’s Guide entry.
Pets on leash are allowed at Schumaker Pond and in Salisbury City Park. You must clean up after your pet.
Local MOS Chapter:
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Tri-County Bird Club, serving Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties. Tri-County Bird Club offers field trips and meetings with presentations by guest speakers, free and open to the public.
A group of birders gathers for an informal bird walk on the former grounds of the Ward Museum on Wednesday mornings at 9 am year-round; newcomers are welcome. Meet in the former Ward Museum parking lot (909 S Schumaker Dr, Salisbury, MD 21804), where you can leave your car. In the event that the gate to the Ward Museum parking lot is closed, you may park in the lot for Schumaker Park (see Parking section below). Just in case, arrive in ample time to allow for the walk from the Schumaker Pond parking area to the former Ward Museum lot.
Paved lot at the former Ward Museum (might be gated closed). Smaller paved lots at the edge of Schumaker Park. Paved and gravel lots at several locations in Salisbury City Park. See maps at link provided in the “At a Glance” section.
- From the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or points northwest of Salisbury on the Eastern Shore: Follow US Route 50 east toward Salisbury, MD. At the Route 50 Business/Route 50 By-Pass Junction, take Route 50 Business into Salisbury. Follow Route 50 Business for 5.25 miles, then exit Route 50 Business by turning right to go south on Beaglin Park Drive. Follow Beaglin Park Drive for about 1.2 miles, passing through several traffic lights. Beaglin Park Drive will take you over the dam at the base of Schumaker Pond. At the next intersection, turn left onto South Schumaker Drive. The former Ward Museum and its parking area will be on your immediate left. To reach Schumaker Park, continue on South Schumaker Drive past the former Ward Museum for another 0.3 miles and the two parking lots for the park will be on your left, in a wooded area. Parking at Salisbury City Park is located at several spots off of North Park Drive and South Park Drive.
- From points south, such as Princess Anne or the Eastern Shore of Virginia: Take US Route 13 north to Fruitland, MD. At the Route 13 Business /Route 13 By-Pass Junction, follow signs to take Route 13 Business into Salisbury. Follow Route 13 Business northbound for 3.7 miles, (passing Wal-Mart and Salisbury University). Turn right to go east on East College Avenue. Follow for 1.6 miles and then turn right to go south on South Schumaker Drive. The Ward Museum and its parking area will be on your immediate left. To reach Schumaker Park, continue on South Schumaker Drive past the Ward Museum for another 0.3 miles and the two parking lots for the park will be on your left, in a wooded area.
- From Ocean City and other points east: Take US Route 50 west toward Salisbury, MD. At the Route 50 Business/Route 13/50 By-Pass Junction, take Route 50 Business into Salisbury. Follow Route 50 Business for 1.6 miles, then exit Route 50 Business by turning left to go south on Beaglin Park Drive. Follow Beaglin Park Drive for about 1.2 miles, passing through several traffic lights. Beaglin Park Drive will take you over the dam at the base of Schumaker Pond. At the next intersection, turn left onto South Schumaker Drive. The Ward Museum and its parking area will be on your immediate left. To reach Schumaker Park, continue on South Schumaker Drive past the Ward Museum for another 0.3 miles and the two parking lots for the park will be on your left, in a wooded area.
- From points north on the Eastern Shore, including Delaware: Follow US Route 13 South toward Salisbury, MD. At the Route 13 Business /Route 13 By-Pass Junction (immediately after Center at Salisbury Mall), follow signs to take Route 13 Business into Salisbury. Follow Route 13 Business for 4.0 miles, then turn left to go east on East College Avenue. Follow for 1.6 miles and then turn right to go south on South Schumaker Drive. The Ward Museum and its parking area will be on your immediate left. To reach Schumaker Park, continue on South Schumaker Drive past the Ward Museum for another 0.3 miles and the two parking lots for the park will be on your left, in a wooded area.
To reach City Park from Schumaker Park or the Ward Museum site, drive to the corner by the Ward Museum at South Schumaker Drive and Beglin Park Drive and turn right onto Beglin Park Drive. Take the first left onto South Park Drive to reach parking areas for City Park such as the sports field, zoo, and picnic area. Or, continue on Beglin Park Drive, crossing Beaverdam Creek, to the second left onto North Park Drive, which will provide access to parking at the baseball diamond and dog park.
Wicomico County: Cedar Hill Marina & Park ◾ Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area ◾ Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area – Nutter’s Neck,◾ Pemberton Historical Park ◾ Roaring Point & Nanticoke Harbor ◾ Tyaskin Park & Wetipquin Park
Worcester County: Pocomoke State Forest – Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
Features and Amenities:Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Boat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Community and Urban ParksCounty ParksPonds, Lakes, and Reservoirs