Year-round Birding in Maryland
Blessed with four distinct seasons, altitude variance from ocean-level to 3,600 feet, and situated on the Eastern migration flyway, Maryland provides great opportunities for birding all year round. Pick your favorite seasons to see what is likely to be available.
Spring is just glorious in Maryland…except when it rains. Temperatures are mild, and early in the season when foliage has yet peaked, even the most evasive passerines can be easily seen. Later, there is a profusion of flowering trees, bushes and plants that provide food, shelter and nesting materials for resident birds. Northward moving waterfowl and raptor migration peaks in March and April. May brings another round of migration—shorebirds, terns, flycatchers, catbirds, swallows, thrushes, vireos, warblers, tanagers, orioles—take your pick. Some will continue northward; others will stay for the summer. By June resident birds are busy building nests and tending their fledglings.
Summer can be hot, although early-morning birding is generally tolerable. It is probably the least productive birding season since mostly only local residents remain, although second-nesters can be very busy with their new broods. By August migration begins in earnest again. Egrets and herons, shorebirds, flycatchers, swallows, orioles, thrushes, and vireos are headed south again.
Perhaps the most glorious season, Autumn is warm, sunny, and birdy! September is peak season for many of those “confusing fall warblers” heading to their southern wintering grounds. By October leaves are changing into a kaleidoscope of color, and raptor migration is at its height. Snow Geese are arriving along with late-migrating sparrows. By November waterfowl start arriving in large numbers along marshes and bay and ocean coastlines. If you are lucky enough to be around following a hurricane, you may witness all kinds of rare birds, both pelagic and otherwise, blown off their normal course.
Winter, cold and blustery though it can sometimes be, is a birding bonanza—especially when it has been very cold further north. Waterfowl inhabit the coastlines and marshes in great variety and numbers. Many raptors remain, along with wrens, chickadees, bluebirds, finches, mockingbirds, sparrows and woodpeckers. Our one constant winter warbler is the Yellow-rumped. And White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos return for the season. From the shoreline, pelagic birds and ocean ducks can be seen like Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, and Surf Scoters. If conditions are not right north of here, we get irruptions of species like Snow Buntings, crossbills, and even Snowy Owls!