crittersmainEver wonder what that beautiful bird is that sits on your porch, or what kind of fish it was that you caught the other week? The Eldersburg.Net Critter Guide is here to help you. The Critter Guide has a list and pictures of the most common animals you will find in the Eldersburg area to assist you with your creature conundrum.

If you have any pictures of animals in Eldersburg, e-mail them to us and we’ll post it and credit you on the site. Not sure exactly what it is? We’ll identify it. Send your pictures to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Special thanks to Eldersburg resident and photographer Adam Willard for letting us use this white-tailed deer picture and many other pictures on this page.


If these furry creatures are going to be roaming your backyard, it would be best if you at least knew them by name. Here’s where you can figure out what that timid critter was you saw.

White-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus
• The deer harvest in Carroll County for 2005-2006 came out to be a reported grand total of 4,901 deer.
Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus
• Often considered a pest, the eastern cottontail is the most common type of rabbit in North America

easterncottontail150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.

Eastern chipmunk Tamias striatus
• These rodents have an average lifespan of 2-3 years, spending most of their days foraging for food.
Eastern Chipmunk, photo by Adam Willard Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Woodchuck Marmota monax
• Groundhogs never stray too far from their burrows, choosing to flee rather than fight. However, they will defend their home, sometimes violently, from predators, including domestic dogs.

American Beaver Castor canadensis
• Beaver lodges can be found all over Piney Run Lake and in some coves around Liberty Reservior.

Striped Skunk Mephitidae mephitis
• Thanks to its smelly spray, skunks have few natural predators. Skunks will only use their spray as a last resort as it takes up to ten days to regenerate it, but humans can smell it up to a mile away downwind.
Eastern gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
• Although rare to see in our area, many major cities that have fewer natural predators have colonies of albino and melanistic grey squirrels.
Coyote Canis latrans
• If a human calls to a coyote, it will respond back using simple calls until the human gets bored of calling, at which point the coyote will revert back to calling other coyotes with more complex calls.
Red fox Vulpes vulpes
• Red foxes can be seen at dusk and into the night, and heard with varied calls, ranging from three short yips to a call resembling a human scream.
Common gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
• The gray fox is the most primitive of the canine family and one of the least commonly seen or heard, being less tolerant of human presence.
Common raccoon Procyon lotor
• Urban raccoons lose their fear of humans over time and have been know to creep in houses through pet doors in search of food.
Mink Mustela vison
• This semi-aquatic mammal can be found around Piney Run and Liberty Reservoir.
Mink, photo by Adam Willard Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.



When they’re not getting stuck inside the Home Depot garden center, birds like to hang around all over Eldersburg. There are over 90 different reported species of birds in the Eldersburg area with almost 4000 sightings in Carroll County. Here’s where you can learn what bird sings that favorite tune of yours.

The Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas Project can give you more insight to the variety that we have.

Canada Goose Branta canadensis
• A familiar sight at Liberty Reservoir, these geese can be very territorial, attacking if other geese, animals, pets, and humans get too close to their young.
canadagoose150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
• Also common around the waters of Eldersburg, mallard ducks are capable of living over 20 years and are known for having some of the strangest breeding habits of all birds.
mallard150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
• Sometimes seen on a telephone pole or perched on a tree by a big field, red-tailed hawks are both helpful and harmful.
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
You might hear a croaking call around Piney Run from the Great Blue Heron, the largest North American heron. These large birds are also known to snatch fish from backyard goldfish ponds.
greatblueheron150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
• One of the few birds that mates for life, the mourning dove was named for the sad “coos” it makes and its solitary life after a mate dies.

mourningdove150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
• Red-Bellied Woodpeckers nest permanently in dead trees after the female has chosen one of several sites the male seeks out.
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
• The downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America and has many of the same habits as the red-bellied woodpecker.
Downy Woodpecker, photo by Adam Willard Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
• The eastern phoebe can be identified by the way it pumps its tail while perched and its song, rendered as “fee-bee.”
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
• The red-eyed vireo is a very small songbird that is one of many victims of the brown-headed cowbird’s nest parasitism.
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
• This beautiful bird is also one of the most aggressive. Interestingly enough to mention, the blue color in their feathers is due to the internal structure of the feather, and if a feather is crushed, the color will disappear.
Blue Jay, photo by Adam Willard Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
• A scavenger, the American crow can be found throughout Eldersburg in corn fields, backyards, and fast food joints.
Purple Martin Progne subis
• The purple martin is the largest North American swallow and the only bird completely dependant on humans for nesting sites.
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
• The tree swallow is an acrobatic bird with beautiful iridescent feathers.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
• These swallow, carrying coconuts or not, make up for their rather slow velocity (25 mph) with maneuverability, with which they swoop at enemies they feel threatened by.
Carolina Chickadee Parus carolinensis
• The Carolina chickadee is known for its familiar “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call and a few others that set it apart from the otherwise undistinguishable black-capped chickadee
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor
• The tufted titmouse makes its nests out of soft materials, sometimes plucking hair from live animals.
tuffedtitmouse150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
• Carolina wrens can be heard year-round with their loud song that cries out “teakettle-teakettle-teakettle!”
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
• The house wren is a strange bird, making nests in unusual places such as shoes and other cozy items. King Friday XIII from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood also sung to his beloved house wren.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
• A very small songbird, the blue-gray gnatcatcher migrates south for the winter and can be mistaken for hummingbirds die to their similar flight and nesting patterns.
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
• Once on the brink of extinction, the eastern bluebird is now slowly coming back thanks to bird enthusiasts and close monitoring of house sparrows.
easternbluebird150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
• The wood thrush is the only one of its genus and is also a victim of the brown-headed cowbird’s parasitism.
American Robin Turdus migratorius
• American robins have very complex, beautiful, informational songs, usually the last one singing a cheerful tune in the evening. American robins can also be a carrier of the West Nile Virus without showing symptoms.
American Robin, photo by Adam Willard Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
• As a Mimid, the catbird mimics the calls of other birds, but usually only one phrase of the song, once.
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
• Mockingbirds are the loudmouths of all birds, learning and mimicking other birds’ calls day and night. A mockingbird can have an impressive repertoire of 50-200 songs and sounds, but cannot master the complex music of the song sparrow.
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum
• The brown thrasher is a reclusive bird, preferring dense shrub to a wide open branch.
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
• There are over 200 million European starlings in North America, descendants of only 60 originally introduced in Central Park by a man trying to introduce every species of birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. This alien bird’s existences have been devastating to other species and for this reason, are legal to kill by law.
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
The chipping sparrow is a common, small sparrow with a simple trill of a song.
chippingsparrow150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
• The song sparrow uses its songs to attract, defend, and communicate. Their complex melodies cannot be effectively mimicked by even the most skilled of mockingbirds.

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
• Once a popular cage bird for their bright color and beautiful songs, northern cardinals are now almost always seen in pairs.
Northern Cardinal, photo by Adam Willard
Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea
• Indigo buntings migrate at night using the stars to navigate. If they are in captivity and cannot see the stars, they become disoriented.
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
• Easily identified by its red shoulder caps on the male’s wings, the red-winged blackbird can be found around marshes and other bodies of water.
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
• Considered a pest to farmers, the common grackle is fond of grain and occasionally small birds.
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
• The brown-headed cowbird is a deadly species of birds. Cowbirds will lay their eggs in another species’ nest which, when hatched, kill off the hosts’ chicks.
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
• The orchard oriole is best known for being mistaken for a warbler or a Baltimore oriole.
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
• The Baltimore oriole is Maryland’s state bird and named after Lord Baltimore whose coat of arms bore the same colors as this loud blackbird’s.
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
• This bird’s coloration can vary, depending on the season and the bird’s diet. The house finch is one of the only birds aggressive enough to keep house sparrows out of their nests.
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
• This bright yellow bird prefers open places, and can be spotted flying in its ascending and quickly descending flight pattern, much like an ocean wave.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
• Incredibly common as a man-made nesting bird, the house sparrow is attracted to yellow flowers and butterflies, tearing them to shreds. The house sparrow is, like the European starling, legal to kill due to its tendency to prey on native birds.
housesparrow150 Photo by Adam Willard, all rights reserved.


 If something’s a little fishy about your friend’s last fishing trip story, here is where you can find out how big these fish really get.

DNR page about Piney Run Fishing

Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus
Striped Bass Morone saxatilis
Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus
Redear Sunfish Lepomis microlophus
Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
Tiger Muskie Esox masquinongy
Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu
Crappie Pomoxis annularis
White Perch Morone americana
Yellow Perch Perca flavescens
Walleye Sander vitreus vitreus


For the ophidiophobics out there, scroll no farther. Although any reptiles you’ll encounter in our area are harmless, you may not want to know what might be slithering around the garden.

Black Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus
Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis

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