The Wildlife of Our Watershed

Join us as we dive into the amazing wildlife that calls the Chesapeake Bay watershed home.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans 64,000 square miles throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washinton, D.C. To put that into perspective, that’s more than 14 times the size of the Chesapeake Bay itself. This expansive, diverse land is home to more than 18 million people and over 3,000 plant and animal species. There’s a wide range of landscapes and even more life to explore throughout the watershed, so we’re glad you’re here.

Wildlife by the Numbers

Bird

79+

BIRD SPECIES

Brook trout in a net

70+

FISH SPECIES

Swallotail butterfly on a milkweed flower.

21+

INSECT SPECIES

36+

MAMMAL SPECIES

Large turtle looking up at the sky.

20+

REPTILE SPECIES

Frog in a pool of water.

11+

AMPHIBIAN SPECIES

4+

ALGAE SPECIES

A bucket of blue crabs.

69+

INVERTEBRATES

Animals Upstream

“Animals Upstream” is an engaging four-part video series that unveils the often-overlooked wonders within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. When one thinks of the Chesapeake Bay, images of rockfish, oysters, and blue crabs likely come to mind. While these are iconic to the region, the watershed extends across 64,000 square miles and provides a home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals.

Bear video coming soon!

Rattlesnack video coming soon!

Elk video coming soon!

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Stay tuned for more Animals Upstream videos coming soon!

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Explore Additional Wildlife Stories

A blue bird sticking its head out of a hole in a tree.

Exploring the Intricate Relationship Between Birds and Native Trees in Spring: A Symphony of Mutualism

Spring in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a season of renewal and rejuvenation, marked by the harmonious interplay between native trees and bird species.

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Macro Macros! Getting the Big Picture with Tiny Bugs

On the bottom of streams across the Chesapeake Bay watershed live hundreds of unique species of macroinvertebrates. From maylfies to stoneflies and caddisflies, to name a few, macroinvertebrates come in all shapes and sizes.

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A belted kingfisher hovering as it waits to catch some prey (Photo Credit: Ron Dudley).

Diving into the World of the Belted Kingfisher

Due to the abundance of fish and insects that a waterway provides, you can find a wide variety of birds while kayaking streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon.

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The right side of a wood thrush perched upright on a rock.

The Forest Flautist: the Wood Thrush

Have you ever heard the flutey call of the wood thrush? These interior forest specialists are commonly found in our eastern forests, but they are vulnerable to habitat changes, like fragmentation, invasive plant infiltration, and herbivory in the forest understory.

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The Buffer Buck

Hunters, in general, are often some of our greatest conservationists. Their passion for spending time in the outdoors puts them in close proximity to the remarkable beauty of our Chesapeake forest ecosystems, helping to create a conservation ethic.

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Underwater view of the top of a fairy shrimp swiming in a creek.

What’s Swimmin’? Phenological Fun! Fairy Shrimp

What’s swimming right now? Fairy shrimp! These small crustaceans live in vernal pools and lakes and are an important food source for both fish and birds.

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Front view of a wood frog

Surviving Winter: The Amphibian Way

How do amphibians survive winter? These cold-blooded critters have unique methods for staying alive during the frigid winter months.

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Our Hidden Urban Neighbors: Macroinvertebrates

Beneath a creek’s waters lives an entirely different ecosystem of critters that would not look out of place from the movie franchise, Alien, clinging to rocks and crawling on the submerged substrate. Despite their less than loveable features, a stream’s aquatic benthic macroinvertebrates are great indicators of stream health.

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What’s Poppin’? Phenological Fun: Eastern Cicada Killer Wasp

Is this the fabled “murder hornet” we keep hearing about? No! This is the eastern cicada killer wasp!

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What’s Poppin’? Phenological Fun: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

It’s a bird! It’s a bee! It’s a… moth?! More specifically, it’s a hummingburd clearwing moth.

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