Birding in Maryland

Photo of Blackwater Wildlife Refuge taken from NPS website.

Photo of Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Maryland

With over 400 species of birds sighted and over 200 nesting species, Maryland is an excellent location for birding. In addition to the desirable wetland, marsh, woodland, and meadow habitats, the Atlantic flyway migratory path cuts across the state.

Some well-known species in Maryland include the Bald Eagle, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Great Blue Heron. Whether this is your first time birding, or if you’re looking for a new favorite birding spot, we have compiled the top resources and locations for your next adventure.

Resources for Bird Watching in Maryland

  • MDBirding is an open group in Maryland where people share everything from favorite birding spots to exciting rare bird sightings.
  • For birding in Blackwater, download this helpful checklist to keep track of the birds you find. It also tells you which birds are most likely in each season.
  • The Maryland government website provides a comprehensive list of birds found in Maryland, including photos of many.

Maryland Birding Hotspots

Photo of the Burning Bridge from Antietam National Battlefield taken from NPS website

Photo of the Burning Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield taken from NPS website.

For migratory birds in springtime, Antietam National Battlefield is a premier birding location. Surveys indicate that over 77 bird species, mostly from Central and South America, return to Maryland each spring to breed here. The best chance of sighting rare birds is by the creek on Snavely Ford Trail. After a day of birding, stop at Antietam Creek Vineyards for a wine tasting.

photo of a Scarlet Tanager from the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge website

Photo of a Scarlet Tanager from the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge website

Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, a refuge over 12,000 acres, was established in 1936 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Included in this refuge are hardwood forests, wetlands, meadows, and riparian habitats that each host scores of native birds. The 2.2 mile Cash Lake loop is the perfect morning hike for sighting some of the over 250 bird species who call this refuge home. Look for the Scarlet Tanager, a brightly colored songbird, and plenty of waterfowl.

Blackwater Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 and currently hosts over 250 species of birds each year. For the best chance of seeing a rare migratory bird, visit from November to February when waterfowl migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. If you’re visiting during warmer months, there are plenty of warblers, Bald Eagles, and even the Brown-headed Nuthatch. Stop by the visitors center to watch osprey nests from the osprey cameras.

Located at the southernmost tip of St. Mary’s County, where the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River meet, Point Lookout State Park is a top waterfowl watching location. In the winter, watch for gulls, Brown Pelicans, and migrating raptors. Near the museum is the best spot for sighting the Brown-headed Nuthatch and Red-headed Woodpeckers. This spot is popular for swimming in the summer, so come early to avoid crowds.

Violettes Lock creates a marshland that is well-loved by many waterfowl and migratory birds. Search for nesting Bald Eagles, the Louisiana Waterthrush, woodpeckers, and warblers. For a quick trip, park right by the canal, or take the 3.2 mile walk from Pennyfield to Rileys along the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath Trail.

While this spot isn’t technically Maryland, Theodore Roosevelt Island is a great place to go birding while visiting DC. During the spring, the island is swarming with warblers, but the marsh is home to many sparrows and thrushes too. The island hosts the most birds during spring and autumn, but there are plenty of birds who call it home year-round.

If you’re searching for Bald Eagles, there is no better place in Maryland than Conowingo. Many Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and gulls are here from October to March, but some stay year-round. When the dam turbines run, water and fish are pushed through, which provides ample feeding for the birds. Dress warm, as the location is quite breezy and there are long periods without action!

Where are your favorite birding spots in Maryland?