From our Western Maryland mountains to the Chesapeake Bay to our Atlantic barrier islands, more than 450 species have been documented in the state (check out this impressive statewide species tally from our friends at the Maryland Biodiversity Project).
Each season brings with it exciting opportunities to witness the miracle of migration first-hand. The changes are dramatic from season to season, but there are beautiful, more subtle shifts every few weeks if you watch nature’s theater.
Maryland cares about birds. Our Department of Natural Resources works closely with federal and local government agencies and conservation partner organizations to make certain that the future for birds is bright in our great state. Maryland has been an international leader in the recovery of formerly endangered species, including the comeback of the Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, and our iconic national symbol, the Bald Eagle. Today, bird watchers, photographers and wildfowl hunters benefit from the dedication of Maryland’s conservation community.
Birding is fun here, too! Whether you’re birding from a dock bar in Ocean City or along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, or enjoying a post-birding “tally rally” at one of our Maryland wineries or craft breweries, Maryland is the perfect place for birders of every skill level.
If you’re new to birding or to exploring Maryland’s wildlife watching hotspots, our birding community welcomes you to join us and make new friends. Many of our local bird clubs, nature centers and conservation partners lead regular bird hikes all across the state, and most are no or low cost. Check out the event calendars of the Maryland Ornithological Society bird clubs and the Maryland chapters and centers of the National Audubon Society to learn more about these birding opportunities.
For travelers looking for a weekend or more of birding adventure, including internationally-acclaimed wildfowl art events, here is our Top 10 list of Maryland birding events (most are in calendar order):
1 Prince George’s Audubon Society “Mi Casa es Su Casa” Migration Celebration
September 21, 2019
This migration-themed birding festival at Lake Artemesia Park in Berwyn Heights, MD, features live raptors, a bird walk for all skill levels, family bilingual scavenger hunt, children’s games, bilingual Spanish/English activity pages, and Monarch Migration station.
2 The Big Sit Weekend at Wetlands Overlook Park
October 12-13, 2019
This event features bird walks with guest leaders at Wetland Overlook Park and along the boardwalk, bird films at Town Hall, happy hour at a local restaurant, and a Sunday Big Sit event all day at Wetlands Overlook Park with a tally rally at a local restaurant. Check the website for more information.
3 Waterfowl Festival in Historic Easton
November 8-10, 2019
Autumn is the most spectacular time of year for the Eastern Shore and the Waterfowl Festival in historic Easton shows it off at its best. Thousands of geese fly overhead while thousands of visitors stroll the streets. Local hunting traditions and sportsmen’s goods and gear are highlighted in addition to the wildlife art, with the World Championship Goose Calling Contest®, the Mason-Dixon Regional Duck Calling Contest and Delmarva Dock Dogs® Competition taking place as well as retriever demonstrations, wine tasting pavilion, kids’ activities and much more.
4 Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend
January 24-26, 2020
This event hosts field trips that provide great looks at the waterfowl, seabirds, shorebirds, raptors — and seals! — that are on full display on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore during the winter months. Seasoned birders and newbies will have the opportunity to experience guided tours by boat and expeditions by foot, all led by local experts. After the field trips, birders can socialize at “tally rallies” hosted at local restaurants and breweries. Check the website for more information.
5 Eagle Festival at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Birds of prey programs featuring live eagles and other raptors, kids’ activities, kids’ bird box construction, eagle prowls, wildlife drive tours, wildlife exhibits, live bird exhibits, and food all day! Check the website for more information.
6 Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend
April 23-26, 2020
This event celebrates the spring migration of thousands of warblers, shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. Seasoned birders and newbies will have the opportunity to experience guided tours by boat and expeditions by foot, all led by local experts. After the field trips, birders can socialize at “tally rallies” hosted at local restaurants and breweries. Check the website for more information.
7 Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival
April 24-26, 2020
The World Championship is an international event where carvers, collectors, and visitors convene at the end of each April in Ocean City, MD. From highly decorative works of art to functional hunting decoys, about 1,200 different wildfowl carvings representing more than 150 species from around the world can be viewed at the premier competition in the world.
8 Garrett County Birdfest
This birdfest was created to help fairly new, but very interested birders become more accomplished at this challenging sport. Time is spent listening to and learning bird songs. Early May is the perfect time to see birds migrating through the area. Most migrants have returned but the leaves haven’t grown enough to block your view of the birds in the treetops. Check the website for more information.
9 Audubon’s Baltimore Birding Weekend
This event, hosted by the Patterson Park Audubon Center, provides guided experiences that connect people to the Baltimore’s waterfront and green spaces, highlight the incredible wildlife diversity that can be discovered in our urban parks, wetlands, and ecological restoration sites, and have a fun time birding in, and exploring Charm City. Check the website for more information.
10 Maryland Ornithological Society Annual Convention
For more than 70 years, the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) has hosted an annual convention where both members and non-members can meet, socialize, discuss conservation and natural resource topics, and enjoy guided field trips in various regions of Maryland. The convention is hosted at different venues and dates each year. Check the website for more information.