Marylanders adore the state’s wild birds. More than 450 species have been counted nationwide, and they can brag of a great network of conserved land and water in their forests and refuges that serve as habitats. To guarantee a healthy future for birds in Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources has worked closely with federal, state, and municipal government institutions as well as conservation partner groups for many years.
Finding a precise figure for the amount of bird species present in North America, the United States, or even the state of Maryland, is challenging. But according to Wikipedia, Maryland is home to at least 455 different bird species. Here are the best 10 locations in the Free State to see a variety of birds all year long.
Point Lookout State Park
One of the best places in Maryland for birdwatching is Point Lookout State Park; in fact, it ranks second in Maryland for the number of bird species reported on eBird. It is a migration trap and home to several rare species. It is situated where the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay meet. Sand beaches, rock quays and seawalls, Loblolly Pine forests, evergreen woodlands, grassy open spaces, and scrub-shrub are among the ecosystems.
Although primarily a hunting region, there are many sparrows in the fields. Despite being uncommon, Sedge Wren is frequently spotted in the marshes around Cornfield Harbor Drive, just beyond the park’s boundaries. The boat to Smith Island also leaves from the Point Lookout Marina. During the month of July, when this species occasionally comes into the southern Chesapeake Bay, it offers the chance to witness pelagic species like Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.
While they don’t visit frequently, shorebirds fare well in this area thanks to the 30 species that have been recorded. Make careful to search for Purple Sandpipers at the shore’s rip-rap and jetties.
Sandy Point State Park
On the western shore of the Bay, at a point of land just to the north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, is where Sandy Point State Park is located. Outstanding Bay vistas and healthy habitat patches are distributed throughout Sandy Point Park. Sandy Point State Park is the second-highest location in Maryland with 299 species as of March 2022.
It is renowned for its plunging ducks, seagulls, and occasionally rare winter songbirds. This makes it the top winter birding location on the upper Western Shore of the Bay. There will undoubtedly be a large number of birds that like pine forests, especially wet forests, in Corcoran Woods.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island, which is situated in the Atlantic migratory flyway, is home to several residents and migratory bird species. The island presents a special possibility for birders due to its mid-latitude placement along the migratory pathways of both northern and southern species.
Piping plovers come to Assateague in the springtime and start their extensive territorial and courtship rituals there. Rugged, storm-washed beaches on the island draw these fragile birds, which they utilize for both nesting and feeding.
In the coastal waters along the marsh edge, wading birds such as great egrets and clapper rails can be observed foraging during the summer. While patrolling their midsummer nesting grounds amid the higher reeds and rushes, red-winged blackbirds chirp constantly.
C&O Canal-Violettes Lock
From Washington, D.C., upstream to Cumberland, Maryland, 184 miles of the historic canal right-of-way are accessible to hikers and bicyclists through the C&O Canal National Historical Park. A route that’s lengthy may undoubtedly provide excellent birding possibilities. You have access to Blockhouse Point Park, a 260-species-attracting area, and the 40-acre Dierssen Waterfowl Sanctuary.
From autumn until spring, a variety of duck species use the marsh in the refuge, and wood ducks lay their eggs there. The Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Green Heron, Osprey, Spotted Sandpiper, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Louisiana Waterthrush are among the species that may be found from springtime until autumn.
The nearby woodland is teeming with songbirds during the spring migration, including Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, and Baltimore Oriole.
Fort Smallwood Park
At the point of a peninsula in northern Anne Arundel County, where the Patapsco River and Rock Creek converge with the Chesapeake Bay, lies Fort Smallwood Park. The 90 acres of Fort Smallwood Park provide an exceptional blend of outdoor activities and scenic splendor.
During the northward spring migration, this Maryland treasure serves as one of the major raptor migratory barriers in the mid-Atlantic area. The majority of other Eastern hawk watch locations are on inland slopes and only report modest numbers of hawks in the spring.
Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Broad-winged Hawk make up the majority of the 11,000 raptors that are typically present in the spring. While seven other species are seasonal migrants that can be found in concentrations between 100 and 1,000.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument currently includes Blackwater NWR. The greatest time to see waterfowl in Blackwater NWR is from mid-October to mid-March. Tundra swans, Canada and snow geese, and more than 20 different kinds of ducks are among the wintering species.
Mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, wigeons, and pintails are the most prevalent duck-known species there. Even though the majority of ducks fly northward in the springtime, some remain behind during the summer to raise their offspring in the refuge’s protected regions. Canada geese, mallards, black ducks, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal are some of the species that breed here.
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge
The Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a component of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which is home to the biggest estuary in our country as well as the most extensive network of protected lands. The Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge’s stunning 2,200+ acres provide migratory birds with a broad and unspoiled home.
The region is notably well-known for the birdlife that winters there, notably the magnificent Tundra Swans that come every winter. Witnessing the Tundra Swam migration is an amazing experience. Every winter, generally from November and March, they arrive.
Before making the approximately 4,000-mile journey to their spring breeding grounds, these majestic birds spend the winter months at the Refuge resting and grazing on the grasses. The Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is home to them. Nevertheless, the Tundra Boardwalk is the greatest area to spot them.
Pickering Creek Audubon Center
The 400-acre Pickering Creek Audubon Center is a functioning farm located in Talbot County, Maryland, near the tidal Pickering Creek.
The Center’s grounds include mature hardwood forests, fresh and brackish marshes, meadows, tidal and non-tidal wetlands, almost a mile of beachfront on a tidal stream, and agriculture, among other types of ecosystems.
The 4 miles of trails at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, which include marshes and forests, entice birders and hikers. Birds using the Atlantic Flyway to migrate from South America to Canada pause at Pickering Creek. With so many migrating birds, you never know what you’ll spot in the trees or the sky during your visit.
Swallow Falls State Park
Few of Maryland’s woods can be considered old growth, meaning they were able to withstand the significant tree-cutting that took place in the eastern United States between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The Youghiogheny River is hugged by Maryland’s oldest grove of eastern hemlock and white pine trees, some of which are said to be at least 360 years old.
The grove is tucked away within Swallow Falls State Park. The best time to observe birds traveling through the region is in early May. The majority of migrating birds have returned, but the leaves still don’t cover enough of the tree tops to obscure your view of the birds.
Hikers could be treated to a male blackburnian warbler staking out his territory in May by hearing his thin, high-pitched noises or songs. Blackburnians will congregate in the mature evergreen woods with foraging flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, and kinglets once the young have fledged.
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