Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center: The park within a park

Since opening in 1999, the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center has been a destination for Garrett County visitors and residents.

"When you come for a week, you don't want to miss Swallow Falls and you don't want to miss here," naturalist Caroline Blizzard said.

RELATED: See 4 waterfalls and 300-year-old hemlocks at Swallow Falls

Blizzard said the center has evolved in its in 17 years, becoming more hands on. She said when you come to the center, you're going to learn something. 

Fast Facts:

  • Only full service nature center in the Maryland state park system
  • Aviary is home to nine, captive, non-releasable birds
  • Monarch butterfly program tags and tracks the migration to Mexico

Home to the state park system's nature center, the Discovery Center Aviary is home to nine birds. All of the birds have been injured in some way that would prevent them from surviving in the wild.

"They get to tell their own stories," Blizzard said. "They're all injured in a certain way. They've all had a human impact or a natural impact that's prevented them from being wild any longer, so we try to give them the biggest space we can and most enrichment that we can and actually use their stories to help save others."

The birds include the state's only golden eagle, Kona, a bald eagle named Carson, after marine biologist Rachel Carson, and several owls. 

Blizzard said the aviary is such a big attraction for guests because people really like to get up close to nature and there's not many places where you can get that close to a bald eagle, golden eagle or peregrine falcon.

The aviary is also home to a falcon named Amelia Earhart. Blizzard said the falcon is one of the fastest birds in the world, with the ability to dive for prey at 200 mph. They're able to close their eyelids without losing sight. 

See also: Deep Creek is Maryland's largest fresh water lake

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In addition to the aviary, the Discovery Center also hosts a monarch butterfly program. Naturalists tag and track the migration to Mexico and back. The program involves students from several Garrett County schools as well as highway and road crews.

 

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, which can be found along many Garrett County highways. Previously, the milkweed would be mowed along with other grass and weeds. Recently, the Discovery Center staff has worked with road crews to identify milkweed and preserve it for the monarchs. The butterflies will need it to lay their eggs in the spring when they return from Mexico.

 

Click here for more on the monarch migration.

 

Upcoming Events:

  • Annual Fall Festival: Sept. 24 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.- Games, hay rides, candle dipping, pumpkin carving, crafts, music and more at the Friend's Delight Store
  • Aviary Encounter: Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. - Learn about the Discovery Center's birds. Hear interesting facts and the unique stories of each bird. 
  • Hawk ID Class: Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. - Learn the characteristics of flight, wing beat and shape for identification from a distance
  • Hawk Watch: Oct. 2 - Put your identification skills to the test on the rocks at Dan's Mountain State Park. The staff will help with spotting and identification
  • For more, click here

Click here for more Baltimore area events.

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