MOS logo and Tundra Swans flying
Search Site What's New? Site Map Contact MOS Travel Resources Call Notes

Activities & Events
About MOS
Birds of MD and DC
Birding Sites
Species Counts
Breeding Bird Atlas
Member Resources
Records Committee

You are here: Home - Birding - DC Sites

Birding in DC


This section has been adapted, in part, from the classic birding guide, Finding Birds in the National Capital Area, revised edition, by Claudia Wilds. This wonderful volume was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., copyright 1992. Information from the book is used with the permission of the publisher. If you plan to do any avid birding in the DC Metropolitan area and in various parts of Virginia and Maryland, we strongly urge you to obtain a copy of the entire book. You may purchase a copy from the MOS Nature Store, the Smithsonian Institution Book Store, or a nature store near you. Much of the original data has been updated; other information will be added as received.

Claudia, an MOS member who taught many of us how to bird the national capital area before her death in 1997, attributed much of this section to local birder, Dave Czaplak, who "has a more thorough knowledge of the places to find birds in the District of Columbia than anyone in living memory." We dedicate this section, not only to Claudia, but to Dave and the other local D.C. birdwatchers who have added to our knowledge of these areas. Special thanks to Jim Felley, Ottavio Janni, Gail Mackiernan and Barry Cooper for reviewing the site and contributing their own personal observations. MOS pays tribute to these fine birders and thanks them and the Smithsonian Institution Press for helping us to share this information with others.

Finding Your Way Around

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the District of Columbia, the city is divided into four quadrants, appropriately named NW, SW, NE, SE. The center point is the U.S. Capitol. Keep this in mind as you search for locales to visit. You will quickly see that sites are clustered around a very few areas. We have designated these as separate corridors: Georgetown/American University Corridor, Central Corridor, National Mall/Foggy Bottom Corridor, Northeast Corridor, Potomac Viewing Corridor, the Washington Waterfront Corridor, and the Anacostia Corridor. Click on the area you would like to visit to learn about the sites there. Tips on District-wide birding are covered below.

All directions by car start from a central artery -- Connecticut Avenue, 16th Street, Wisconsin Avenue, M Street, and the like. It is assumed that you will be approaching the site from downtown. If you approach from other directions, you should adjust your route accordingly. Where available, directions via Metro and bus are also provided. Check the Washington Transportation Authority's Metro map for orientation (hit your browser back button to return to DC Birds). Links to other useful maps are provided where available.

Before and during your travels, check the Official List of the Birds of the District of Columbia to identify species that have been accepted by our Records Committee. If you DO find any rare of interesting species, please report to the MD/DC Records Committee. If possible, also report your sighting to the Maryland birding discussion list, MDOsprey and to one of the area's Rare Bird Alerts.

A final note: many of these sites are green havens in the middle of a dense urban area. You might be tempted to forget where you are. Please take the safety precautions you would in any large city. Bird in groups where possible and avoid isolated areas while alone. Store all valuables in the trunk of your car, out of sight. Don't carry any valuables you can't afford to lose. Avoid birding at night. In fact, many areas close at dark. Opening and closing times sometimes vary. Check hours of operation before you visit.

Comments, suggestions and additional useful information should be directed to the Web Site Director.


What to see

As you travel around the District of Columbia, don't forget to look up. Roofs and window ledges of buildings, light and electric poles, chimney tops, etc. are excellent places to find the area's raptors. Some are roosting areas, but others offer an attractive day time perch and reports of raptor sightings are received from just about every area of the city.

Also remember that Washington, D.C. is known for its many small gardens and squares. Each is a potential site for discovering birds in the District. Explore them thoroughly as you wander through the Nation's Capitol.


[Anacostia Corridor] [Central Corridor] [Georgetown/American University Corridor]
[National Mall/Foggy Bottom Corridor] [Northeast Corridor] [Potomac Viewing Corridor][Washington Waterfront Corridor]