The May Photo Contest winning photos were submitted by Lisa Mayo. These stunning photographs show Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, Maryland, enjoying the Red Columbine in the Refuge’s Butterfly and Beneficial Insect Garden, which is maintained by Refuge volunteers.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in Maryland and was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. The Friends of Blackwater is a nonprofit citizen’s support group founded in 1987, assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to carry out their educational, interpretive, and public use missions. The Friends are an all-volunteer organization that is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2022. The Friends have over 500 members that contribute volunteer labor at the refuge, as well as fundraising and advocacy support. Among their activities are to help maintain land and paddling trails at the Refuge, staff events like the Eagle Festival, conduct free bird walks, support enhancements to the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center, raise funds, apply for grants, run several on-site wildlife cameras that are shared online, host the annual Wild Goose Chase Women’s Bicycle Ride, assist with biological surveys, staff the information desk, and manage the Refuge gift shop. In 2022, they held their first public photo contest and began offering public Night Sky Tours, using a powerful telescope the Friends purchased, and now operate in the dark-sky landscape of the refuge. With shrinking federal budgets, support by the Friends of Blackwater is vital to giving Refuge visitors the best experience possible.

I am so impressed by this Friends organization and all the projects and events they do to support their Refuge. Congratulations Lisa and the Friends of Blackwater NWR!!

Photo credit: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at Blackwater NWR by Lisa Mayo