29 Birds That Spend Their Winters in Maryland

Written by Deniz Martinez
Published: November 26, 2023
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While Maryland has many resident birds that can be seen all year, others only make their home in the state for part of the year. Some birds just spend their summer breeding season in Maryland, then in autumn migrate back down south for the winter. However, for other birds that breed further north, Maryland is their southern winter home! Many shorebirds also make Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay region and Atlantic Ocean coast their winter home.

For most of these species, migration into Maryland is a reliable annual event. However, others are irruptive migrators whose movements vary based on food availability. For those species, irruptions into Maryland vary from year to year in both range and numbers.

Here are 29 birds that usually call Maryland home only during the winter months, and where and when you can expect to see them.

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1. American Coot (Fulica americana)

American coot

The American coot measures 13 – 16 in (33 – 40 cm) in length.

©yhelfman/Shutterstock.com

The American coot migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in open waters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

2. Black-Bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

black-bellied plover at water's edge

The black-bellied plover measures 11 – 12 in (28 – 30 cm) in length.

©Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock.com

The black-bellied plover migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the coastal areas.

3. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Bufflehead duck

The bufflehead measures 13 – 15 in (33 – 38 cm) in length.

©Birdiegal/Shutterstock.com

The bufflehead overwinters in ponds, lakes, and rivers across all but the extreme northwest corner of the state.

4. Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Selective focus shot of a swimming canvasback

The canvasback measures 20.5 in (52 cm) in length.

©Wirestock/iStock via Getty Images

The canvasback migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in ponds, lakes, and rivers in the eastern half of the state.

5. Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Non-breading common loon flapping wings

The

common loon

measures 28 – 36 in (71 – 91 cm) in length.

©John_Wijsman/iStock via Getty Images

The common loon migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the coastal areas.

6. Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Common Merganser, British Columbia, Canada

The common merganser measures 26 – 28 in (66 – 71 cm) in length.

©jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images

The common merganser overwinters in open water, especially large rivers, across the state.

7. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Dunlin - young bird at a seashore on the autumn migration way

The dunlin measures 8 -9 in (20 -23 cm) in length.

©Simonas Minkevicius/Shutterstock.com

The dunlin overwinters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

8. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Male and Female Evening Grosbeak in Winter, Portrait

The evening grosbeak measures 8 in (20 cm) in length.

©FotoRequest/Shutterstock.com

The evening grosbeak is an irruptive migrator that may invade the state during the winter. It will also visit seed feeders.

9. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

greater yellowlegs

The greater yellowlegs measures 13- 15 in (33 – 38 cm) in length.

©iStock.com/BrianEKushner

The greater yellowlegs overwinters in the state’s coastal areas.

10. Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

green winged teal

The green-winged teal measures 14 – 15 in (36 – 38 cm) in length.

©J Edwards Photography/Shutterstock.com

The green-winged teal migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in shallow wetlands and coastal marshes in the eastern half of the state.

11. Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

A black and white colored Lesser Scaup floats on the water in the bright sun with its bright yellow eye standing out.

The lesser scaup measures 16 – 17 in (40 – 43 cm) in length.

©ps50ace/iStock via Getty Images

The lesser scaup migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in lakes, ponds, and coastal waters in the eastern half of the state.

12. Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)

Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) foraging in the Gulf of Mexico, Pinellas County

The marbled godwit measures 18 in (45 cm) in length.

©passion4nature/iStock via Getty Images

The marbled godwit can be seen across all but the westernmost region of the state during autumn migration but only overwinters in the coastal areas.

13. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Northern pintail, Anas acuta

The northern pintail female measures 20 in (52 cm) and the male measures 25 in (63 cm) in length.

©MikeLane45/iStock via Getty Images

The northern pintail migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

14. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

side view of a male Northern Shoveler duck

The northern shoveler measures 19 – 21 in (48 – 53 cm) in length.

©Eric Santin/iStock via Getty Images

The northern shoveler migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in ponds, small lakes, and shallow wetlands in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

15. Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

palm warbler

The palm warbler measures 5.5 in (14 cm) in length.

©iStock.com/GummyBone

The palm warbler migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the southeastern corner of the state.

16. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

The pine siskin measures 5 in (13 cm) in length.

©Jeff W. Jarrett/Shutterstock.com

The pine siskin is an irruptive migrator that in heavy invasion years can be found across the state during the winter. It will also visit seed feeders.

17. Redhead (Aythya americana)

Redhead Duck

The redhead measures 19 in (48 cm) in length.

©Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

The redhead migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in large bodies of water in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

18. Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

Ring-billed Gull standing on a rock enjoying a rainbow.

The ring-billed gull measures 18 – 20 in (45 – 51 cm) with up to a 4 ft (1.2 m) wingspan.

©iStock.com/PaulReevesPhotography

The ring-billed gull migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

19. Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Ring-necked duck in flight or taking off

The ring-necked duck measures 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm) in length.

©Jeff Edwards/iStock via Getty Images

The ring-necked duck migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the eastern half of the state, most commonly in larger lakes.

20. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)

ruby-crowned kinglet perched on pine branch

The ruby-crowned kinglet measures 4 in (10 cm) in length.

©iStock.com/mirceax

The ruby-crowned kinglet migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

21. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

The ruddy turnstone measures 9.5 in (24 cm) in length.

©Michael Potter11/Shutterstock.com

The ruddy turnstone overwinters in the state’s coastal areas.

22. Sanderling (Calidris alba)

A sanderling (Calidris alba) foraging during fall migration on the beach.

The sanderling measures 8 in (20 cm) in length.

©Bouke Atema/Shutterstock.com

The sanderling overwinters in the state’s coastal areas.

23. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

semipalmated plover watching the water curiously

The semipalmated plover measures 7 in (18 cm) in length.

©Dee Carpenter Originals/Shutterstock.com

The semipalmated plover migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the coastal areas, primarily along the Atlantic coast.

24. Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)

Walking Short-billed Dowitcher

The short-billed dowitcher measures 11 in (28 cm) in length.

©ps50ace/iStock via Getty Images

The short-billed dowitcher overwinters in the state’s coastal areas.

25. Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)

A Single Snow Goose flies in to land in a flock of Snow Geese with its wings spread and glowing from the bright sunlight.

The snow goose measures 25 – 38 in (64 – 97 cm) with up to a 4.5 ft (1.4 m) wingspan.

©ps50ace/iStock via Getty Images

The snow goose migrates across the state in autumn but only overwinters in the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

26. Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

A flock of tundra swans on a body of water

The tundra swan measures 50 – 54 in (127 – 137 cm) in length with up to a 5.5 ft (1.7 m) wingspan.

©hay_mn97/Shutterstock.com

The tundra swan overwinters in open bodies of water in all but the westernmost region of the state.

27. Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

Western Sandpiper

The western sandpiper measures 6.5 in (16 cm) in length.

©Stephen Bonk/iStock via Getty Images

The western sandpiper overwinters in the state’s coastal areas.

28. White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

A Little White-Throated Sparrow on a Fence

The white-throated sparrow measures 6 – 7 in (15 – 18 cm) in length.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

The white-throated sparrow overwinters across the state. It will also visit ground feeders.

29. Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

A beautiful male Yellow-rumped Warbler peches on a grape vine during its spring migration in a Colorado river corridor,

The yellow-rumped warbler measures 5 – 6 in (13 – 15 cm) long.

©Gerald A. DeBoer/Shutterstock.com

The yellow-rumped warbler overwinters in all but the westernmost region of the state. It is more common along the coast.

Summary of 29 Birds That Spend Their Winters in Maryland

SpeciesWhere Found in Winter
1. American Coot (Fulica americana)greater Chesapeake Bay region
2. Black-Bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)coastal areas
3. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)statewide except extreme NW corner
4. Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)E half of state
5. Common Loon (Gavia immer)coastal areas
6. Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)statewide
7. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)greater Chesapeake Bay region
8. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)statewide during irruptive migrations
9. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)coastal areas
10. Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)E half of state
11. Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)E half of state
12. Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)coastal areas
13. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)greater Chesapeake Bay region
14. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)greater Chesapeake Bay region
15. Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)SE corner of state
16. Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)statewide during irruptive migrations
17. Redhead (Aythya americana)greater Chesapeake Bay region
18. Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)greater Chesapeake Bay region
19. Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris)E half of state
20. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Corthylio calendula)greater Chesapeake Bay region
21. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)coastal areas
22. Sanderling (Calidris alba)coastal areas
23. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)coastal areas; primarily Atlantic coast
24. Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)coastal areas
25. Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)greater Chesapeake Bay region
26. Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)statewide except far W region
27. Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)coastal areas
28. White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)statewide
29. Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)statewide except far W region; more common in coastal areas
SOURCES: Birds of Maryland & Delaware, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mircea Costina/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Deniz Martinez is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on biogeography, ornithology, and mammalogy. Deniz has been researching, teaching, and writing about animals for over 10 years and holds both an MS degree from American Public University earned in 2016 and an MA degree from Lindenwood University earned in 2022. A resident of Pennsylvania, Deniz also runs Art History Animalia, a website and associated social media dedicated to investigating intersections of natural history with art & visual culture history via exploring animal iconography.

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