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Birding Along Maryland’s Coast

Posted January 4, 2021

Birding along Maryland’s Coast is wild in winter! In Worcester County, we have more than 200,000 untouched acres of beach and bald cypress, and miles of farm fields, rivers, and creeks await. Few places on the East Coast still provide such opportunities for solace and mindfulness.

Within this bucolic landscape is some of the best birdwatching in America. With more than 100,000 permanently protected acres in the county, outside options abound. And when it’s time to warm up inside, our coastal resort and historic small towns are ready to host you with delicious dining, craft beer and cozy rooms!

From fall through early spring, Worcester County welcomes its shorebirds, falcons, eagles, and waterfowl to its bays, beaches, and ponds. Assateague Island, the Ocean City Inlet, and Heron Park in Berlin are some winter favorites amidst other hidden parks and ponds with easy public access.

Here is the best place in Maryland to find Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks, Common and King Eider, Dovekies, Razorbills, Purple Sandpipers, scoters, loons, grebes, and Brant. The full complement of winter ducks is also on display, including Canvasbacks, Northern Pintails, Redheads, and Ruddy Ducks. Snowy Owls have been spied among the dunes at Assateague Island, and Harbor Seals have become a hit as well for wildlife watchers exploring along the Atlantic coast.

With so much unspoiled shoreline, marsh, and forestland, it’s no wonder the National Audubon Society has designated a whopping four Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Worcester County, including the Pocomoke-Nassawango, Maryland Coastal Bays, Assateague Island, and Great Cypress Swamp IBAs. The science-based designations are designed to help promote and protect the best remaining places for birds in the state.

Such a bounty is what prompted organizers to create the Delmarva Birding Weekends some 26 years ago. Guided by fun-loving local birders with decades-long experience on the shore, the year-round walking tours, paddles, and boat trips accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Check out the winter birding videos at DelmarvaBirding.com, and join them for guided tours all winter long!

Join us this winter for spectacular birding in this unique and magnificent landscape and shake off the covid blues with some outdoor rejuvenation!

Check out these winter birding hotspots:

Heron Park in Berlin

Heron Park in Berlin is a duck lover’s paradise. Recently opened to the public, the 60-acre park’s ponds are known in winter for their Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked and Ruddy Ducks.

The park is located right across the street from Burley Oak Brewing, so enjoy a local craft beer before or after your birding adventure!

Ocean City Inlet and Sunset Park

In fall, winter, and early spring there are few spectacles like the Ocean City Inlet. The jetties that separate the resort from Assateague Island lure favorite winter species like Purple Sandpipers, Brant, and Ruddy Turnstones. In addition to Red-throated and Common Loons, winter regulars here include Common Eider, Harlequin Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, and all three species of scoter. Rarity seekers come here for King Eiders, Dovekie, Red-necked Grebes, and Razorbills. Sunset Park is a short stroll from the inlet, and this small, tucked away park on Somerset St. has become famous for spring, winter, and fall migrants. The 212 species documented here range from Razorbill and Common Eider to rare winter visitors such as Red Crossbills and Pine Siskins. Ocean City restaurants and bars will welcome you after your inlet excursion with delicious winter seafood, and cocktails to celebrate your species tally!

Chincoteague Bay Landings east of Snow Hill

Take a driving tour to visit the landings of Chincoteague Bay east of historic Snow Hill. From the piers and boat ramp parking areas, you can scope the coastal bay waters and salt marshes for winter waterfowl and raptors. Start at Public Landing for Buffleheads from the public pier and Brown-headed Nuthatches in the nearby pines, then cruise south to Scott’s Landing for Red-breasted Mergansers and Horned Grebes. Finish at Taylor Landing to scan the skies for Snow Geese, and stop in at the northern entrance to the E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area for winter songbirds and a Northern Harrier sighting! Warm up when you’re done in historic Snow Hill, and look for Bald Eagles above the Pocomoke River.

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