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Bird Watching and Bird Trails

Indigo Bunting near mile marker 99 at C&O National Historical Park
Indigo Bunting, C&O Canal, Washington County 
CREDIT: MJ Clingan

Blue Heron om Potomac CREDIT Lloyd Stone
Great Blue Heron, Potomac River,
Washington County 
CREDIT: Llloyd Stone, Impact Photography

Great Barred Owl, Hagerstown Kiwanis Park
Barred Owl, Kiwanis Park, Hagerstown 
CREDIT: John Canan, Canan Photographic

Pileated Woodpecker Washington County Md
Pileated Woodpecker, C&O Canal,
Washington County 
CREDIT: MJ Clingan

Bird watching has long been a favorite activity in Washington County. Professional ornithologists, photographers, birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers come from across the USA to soak up the scenery and snap the common and elusive bird pics, do scientific research, and simply enjoy.

According to the Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources' website, there are over 445 species of birds in the state, with about 222 species which regularly nest here. A complete list can be found here: Maryland Birds. Our location with the Potomac River as our southern boarder lends itself to some of the best birdwatching in the Mid-Atlantic!

The spine of South Mountain is known as the “Atlantic Flyway” and is the pathway for neotropical migrating birds when travelling to/from warmer climates, such as hawks, eagles and owls! Washington Monument State Park has an official Hawk Watching station, recognized by the Hawk Migration Association of North America, or HMANA: https://washingtonmonumenthawkwatch.webs.com/

Depending on migration patterns, these birds are commonly seen in the springtime: Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlarks, Indigo Bunting, and Red-headed Woodpecker various Flycatchers, Vireos, and Warblers. Raptors and Red-tailed Hawks are also commonly seen. American Bald Eagles make appreances too!

Other common raptor sightings include the Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, American Kestrel, and even Broad-winged Hawks.

Great Blue Herons are frequently spotted along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. White-crowned Sparrows are among the wintering species. At night, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, and Great Horned Owls can be heard and can be seen too. 

Bird Trails and opportunities to view them are abundant in Washington County. See below for some of our favorite places to watch, and wait.

Antietam Bird Trail
C&O Canal Bird Trail
Bird Watching South Mountain Recreation Area
Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area
Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area

Birding Resources:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Keep scrolling for more birds that are frequently seen in Washington County!