Common Maryland Birds

The Old Line State has over 450 recorded bird species on eBird, the premiere bird checklist recording system. That places it at 20 out of the 51 states. It is in good company with a host of nearby states with similar numbers. It is even more impressive when you know that the state is 42nd in size.

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Courtesy of Google Maps

Geography of Maryland

There are five distinct geographical areas in Maryland and you can see them on the map above as we move from east to west.

  • Atlantic coastline and associated plains.
  • Piedmont in northeastern Maryland with rolling hills, ridges and streams.
  • The Blue Ridge area in the center.
  • The Appalachian Ridge and Valley is the slim strip of land in the north.
  • The Appalachian Plateau in the northwestern corner

It is this variety in Maryland’s geography that results in such a wide variety of bird species visiting its shores and lands.

What are the birds?

So which birds can you expect to be present when you next look out of your bedroom window? What birds are the most common and which ones only appear during certain times of the year? How can you see these birds with the naked eye? What identifying marks do they have and what feeding and behavioral habits do they have?

Well, if you want to become an expert in the backyard birds of Maryland, then we would suggest that you keep reading. We’ll be itemizing every single type of bird, so that you know which ones you’ll be able to see with the naked eye.

We have organized them starting with the most common birds first, before transitioning to the seasonal ones.

What birds can you find in Maryland all year round?

This first list that we’ve compiled are the ones that you’ll definitely see when you look out of the window, no matter what time of the year it is. You can be sure that you’ll spot any one of these birds.

Note: if you click on the name of the bird, it will take you to additional information on eBird about this bird including where it can be found.

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)

These black rook-like birds will often be found in your backyard, although if there are Blue Jays in the area, then they will tend to keep their distance. They are very similar to the American crow, although they are smaller with smoother plumage and a more nasal-sounding call.

The fish crows are omnivorous, eating small crustaceans and stranded fish in the shallow waters. They will also eat fruit from the trees as well as nuts. If you ever want to tempt these creatures into your backyard, we would recommend placing some peanuts on the shelf of your birdhouse.

The call below and others can be found on the xeno-canto org website.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Next up is a beautiful looking bird of prey that can often be found stalking the backyards of Maryland. They will often be seen hanging around the same area for a few days before taking off, making them one of the more elusive birds on this list. This bird has quite a short and thick wingspan, with a wedge-shaped tail.

This raptor has been said to have over 40 different types of cry, which makes them very hard to differentiate from other birds in the vicinity.

Audio by Nathan French

These birds prefer to live and hunt in diverse areas, allowing them to hunt and breed in tall trees. They only partially migrate and when they are roosting, you can often identify them because they have their heads tucked in.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

This next bird resembles the red-breasted robins that you might often find in Europe. It has a distinctive red breast that will definitely help you to identify them. It has a black throat with a long yellow beak and an orange belly. This bird often breeds in farmland and open wood areas.

This bird mainly eats insects such as beetle grubs, caterpillars and various types of earthworms. They also eat various types of berries from around the nearby vicinity. They have various predators in the wild that include snakes, squirrels, and other birds including American crows and common ravens.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

This next bird has some distinctive shoulder patches that really mark it out from the other blackbirds. The patch itself is orange and yellow, and is fainter when the bird is of a younger age. These spots are used to gain control of various territories for males of the species. They are also used by females to distinguish potential mates.

This bird has a very throaty call which is often combined with a shrill whistling of a certain variety. They have a slightly slower flight path than some other birds and observers have noticed that their wings seem a lot more disheveled than some other birds. These birds are often found in dense forest, mountains and even arctic regions.

Audio by Nancy Salem

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

This bird is one that can be found not just in Maryland, but all corners of the globe. It is a noisy-sounding bird that might keep you up at night. Some of these birds can get a repertoire of around 35 different calls. These are birds that like to interact and play and so are great to watch.

This bird feeds on a wide range of insects, including grasshoppers, crane flies, moths, mayflies, flies, beetles, sawflies and a wide variety of other creatures. They also eat various different types of grapes and cherries. These creatures tend to forage close to the ground for food.

Audio by Gianluca Congi

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

This next bird is notable for its plumage, with a shiny blue and black head and body. This bird has a long dark bill and pale yellow eyes, making it quite distinctive from other birds of this same genus. This will sift for grubs and other insects in the shallow waters.

This bird also uses its distinctive plumage to attract mates during breeding season.

Audio by Paul Driver

These birds are very cooperative and social with each other, often being more aggressive to rival birds. One of the best traits that this bird has is the ability to be able to mimic the calls of other birds, although not with the same accuracy as a bird such as a mockingbird. This bird has a particularly harsh vocal growl.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

This next bird is another one of very distinctive plumage, with a pale blue back and an orange belly. This bird is often found hunting and breeding in open farmland. It has a very soft call that is used to lure mates and to ward off predators. This bird has increased its numbers in the forested areas through situations such as forest fires.

This bird will defend its feeding areas vociferously during the mating season; they also gather in flocks of over one hundred birds. This bird tends to breed in the summer and spring seasons, laying around five to six pale green eggs. This bird will usually eat insects such as small grubs, worms and other invertebrates.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

This next bird is one that comes with a black and white plumage that will certainly make it stand out against the green and brown backdrop of the woods. This bird can be found in the Appalachian mountains in America and often is found hunting insects in the dense ground-based foliage.

During the non-breeding periods, these birds are often found to be huddled together for warmth and shelter. They often catch insects and other creatures that are hanging from the branches of the tree. These birds are able to reduce the temperature of their body using a process called hypothermia, plus it is a great tick for your winter bird checklists.

Audio by David A. Brinkman

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Next up, we have a bird with a super cool quiff that you’ll definitely be able to spot when you are out hiking in your local woods. They are quite small birds that measure around 6 inches and have a smaller wingspan. They can often be found hanging around small trees, hunting caterpillars, small snails, berries, nuts and fruit.

This bird is known for stashing food that it will use at a later date. They often burrow into wasp and hornet nests to retrieve the food in the form of smaller insects. This bird will often seek seeds and other items for food. If you place a seed tray out, then you will more than likely see this quiffed creature flying down to retrieve them.

Audio by Paul Driver

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

This bird has upperparts that are very red, with a mottled brown back that you can spy from quite a distance. It has short thick legs with black bars on the nail and the underbelly which get darker as the birds get older. This bird has a wonderful bubbly song that you can be sure will only really be heard during the mating season.

This bird will usually nest in a cavity constructing it from debris such as twigs, branches and grass that will take roughly a week. They will also use cobwebs, feathers, hair, wool and spider cocoons. The male wren will often find larger strick and strips of bark and use them to line the nest.

Audio by Bernabe Lopez-Lanus

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

This next bird is related to the house wren. They are chestnut and brown in color and can often be seen during the summer months. Not only are these creatures ruthless foragers, but they can succumb to various predators themselves. It has a generally paler plumage, which will grow darker as they get older.

Generally, this bird will live anywhere from 6 to 10 years old. In captivity, this number will increase significantly. During a mild winter, these birds will migrate up to the southern areas of Canada. This bird will sing during any time of the day, although it will get quiet during the harsher months.

Audio by Meena Haribal

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

This next bird is one of the most stocky that you can find on this list. It is bright white, which helps it blend in with the snowy climates during the winter months. It comes with a white face and flank, with a dark wing and back. This nests in a hole in a tree and will often smear insects on the entrance to deter squirrels from invading.

This bird comes with plenty of predators, including snakes, owls and hawks. This bird is relatively small, coming at around 13-14 centimeters in length. This is often found in deciduous forests and open areas of woodland. This bird does not migrate during the winter season, instead choosing to remain in the same area all year round.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

This next bird you cannot miss, and it comes with a fiery red head and a long beak that it uses to drill into the knots in trees. This bird is tiny and comes with grey underparts that it uses to blend in with the background. This thing is an omnivore, eating seeds, nuts, fruits and small insects that it catches out of the trees.

This bird will often use its beak to drum repeatedly on the side of the tree in order to attract a mate. This bird will excavate holes in the wood of dead or dying trees where the wood is generally drier. This bird will use its beak for drilling and excavating the wood too.

Audio by Barry Edmonston

The females are usually largely responsible for rearing the chicks, while the male goes hunting for food.

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

This next woodpecker is very distinctive, coming with vibrant black and white plumage and shaggy feathers. This bird has a very short call that can be easily identified from other bird calls. These birds are often found in deciduous forested areas, often migrating south during the colder months.

In the winters, these birds tend to nest in tree cavities, using their beaks to follow out the dead wood. They are omnivorous, eating nuts, fruits and berries as well as insects that they snatch from the branches of trees. If you are trying to lure this rare creature into your yard, we would recommend that you put nuts and seeds out.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

This next bird looks amazing, with a rose-red bill and a brown body that helps it mingle in with the wintery berries that it often roosts in. They have a long brown tail that is square-tipped at the end, allowing them for a smooth flight path and plenty of balance. These birds breed in urban and suburban areas.

These birds largely feast on vegetation, taking grains, seeds and weeds such as dandelion and nettles. They often make their nests in cavities or in hanging plants. They have often been known to take over the abandoned nests of other birds. This nest is made from twigs and other debris.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

This next bird comes with a bright yellow plumage that will enable you to spot it very quickly amongst the bare branches. The male is the one with the vibrant yellow coloring, whereas the female has a much duller golden-brown color. This bird is very social and will gather together in tight flocks.

This species of bird is very monogamous and will often breed with one mate for life. The numbers of the American goldfinch have largely increased due to human activity. This is because they are putting more backyard feeders out, which can be very helpful during the leaner Winter months. 

Audio by David Liebl

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

This bird sounds a lot sadder than it actually looks. It comes with a copper-colored plumage that you can be sure will help it to blend in with the wooded surroundings. You can tell when this is taking off and landing, as it makes a very distinctive whistling sound. This bird is monogamous and will only produce a small number of squabs.

This bird can be found in certain areas of Mexico, often nesting in open and semi-open habitats. This bird will migrate over flyways during the winter months. It drinks using a very rare form of suction, although 99% of its diet is made up of mostly seeds. They prefer very specific seeds such as pokeberry, sweetgum, corn, sesame and wheat.

Audio by Lance A. M. Benner

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

This next bird is probably the most beautiful that you can find, coming with a wonderful mottled blue pattern that becomes very varied at the wingtips.

It typically gets its food from the trees that it nests in, although it sometimes hawks insects straight from the air. There are four different varieties of blue jay: Florida blue jay, northern blue jay, coastal blue jay, interior blue jay.

Audio by David

This bird, contrary to its calm and friendly-looking demeanor, is actually a very aggressive-looking animal. This bird flies much slower than other creatures, and this is what accounts for the high mortality rate in the wild. This bird is omnivorous, although 75% of its diet is vegetable matter.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

If you spot one of these birds, then you’ll definitely know it. It is bright red, almost the same color as the stop signal on a traffic light. They can often be seen in shrublands, grassland and open wooded areas. This insect feeds on insects and fruit and has a very distinctive red plume on the top of its head.

During its courtship ritual, the male will often pass the seed from its beak to the beak of its partner. They will often trap air in their bodies to keep warm during the winter months. They are often hunted by predators including hawks, owls, shrikes and various types of eagles. Makes will often feed on solely sunflower and corn seeds.

Audio by Scott Crabtree

What Seasonal Birds Can You Find In Maryland?

Now we move onto the birds that you can only get a glimpse of during a few months out of the year. This list will be very useful to know the physical description of the birds as well as what color they are.

Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

This first seasonal bird is very small, no bigger than a sparrow. These birds will often appear in open conifer forests, using the surrounding trees to camouflage, nest and hunt for insects. This bird will eat seeds, foliage and shrubs, which makes it a largely herbivorous creature.

This bird has suffered with decimation of its numbers in recent years due to deforestation.

Audio by Steve Hampton

This creature is able to pile on the weight during the winter seasons, often increasing its metabolism through a process called hypotherisation. This bird will often feast on various weeds such as ragweed, grass, dandelions and chickweed. It will also eat small insects such as grasshoppers, aphids, as well as a few spiders and grubs.

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

This next bird is one that comes in fine colors, with a blue back and black wingtips, it has a chestnut colored underbelly that makes it very distinctive from other birds. This bird measures around 4.5 inches in length, with a smaller wingspan than the length of its body. It has a very nasal and weak cry when compared to other birds of its size.

This bird species has wonderful gymnastic properties, able to hang itself upside down to hunt for grubs and various other foods. This bird will often forage for food in pairs or by itself. If you are wanting to tempt this bird from its nest, you can lay out some peanut butter sunflower seeds and nuts on its bird balcony.

Audio by Sunny Tseng

Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus)

This next bird comes wreathed in plenty of colors, coming with a largely yellow bill, with a pointed beak and some brown flecks on the side. The males of the species have olive underparts which distinguishes them from the females. They are often found breeding in open pine forests.

This bird will drive its bill into the pine trees, both in order to raise the alarm for predators and also to make nests in the sides of trees themselves. The nests of these creatures are open cups, which helps to protect their young from the predators. This species will usually lay around 4 to 5 blotches eggs.

Audio by David A. Brinkman

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

This next bird conforms to the classic hummingbird shape, coming with a longer beak and wings that are larger than its body. It is most commonly seen around the Mississippi river and in parts of North America. Adults are metallic green in color, with a whitish underbelly and yellowish legs.

The female of this species will often build her nest in a protected location such as a shrub or in the thick of a small tree. This species is often seen in pine forests, orchards and various gardens. Apart from during mating season, this bird is largely solitary, choosing to hunt, breed and feed all by itself.

Audio by Russ Wigh

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)

This bird comes with plenty of distinguishing characteristics, and is a very small bird with a pointed beak that is used to hunt and make nests. This bird can be found on mixed woods or deciduous areas of woodland. They will often perch on the edge of branches in order to swoop down and snatch the insect in mid-flight.

This bird will often make its nests from lichen, grasses, lichen and strips of bark. The nests themselves are closed cups, meaning that they are extra protected from various predators. The female will often lay three translucent eggs, which it takes over six months to incubate and hatch.

Audio by Jerome Fischer

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

This next bird will be one that is commonly seen in many areas of North America and parts of Europe. The females of the species are brown, black and grey, whereas the females have lighter colors. These birds are often found in rural settings, so you can be sure that they will be found trying to get food from your back garden.

This bird is found in many climates and habitats, either urban, suburban or rural. This bird will often be seen feasting on insects, although it is very opportunistic and will often try and get insects.

Audio by Alan Dalton

This bird is often targeted by farmers as agricultural pests. You should often watch this bird around any leftover food, as it will make an attempt to eat it.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

This next bird is another one that is commonly found in parts of North America and Europe. Like a lot of other birds that are of the same species, this one is fairly tame and is not easily scared off by humans. This one has orange upper parts, with a greyish underbelly and black streaks on the wingtips.

This song of this bird is very high and trilling and should be very easy to recognize. The breeding of this bird starts late in April and the bird will often build itself a nest in the fork of a tree. These birds have a reddish cap, which will make them very distinctive from other birds that are the same size.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

This next bird you might not even spot in the grey skies, coming with a slate grey plumage and whitetail. The juveniles of these species have grey streaks and are sometimes confused with other birds of the same species. There are numerous subcategories of these types of birds, including the gray-headed group and the red-headed group.

These birds often hang around in conifer forests, migrating further south during the winter. This bird will often have its nest on the ground, usually in the form of a cup-shaped burrow that is disguised with leaves and moss to scare away any predators. It will usually lay a clutch of around 4 to 6 eggs.

Audio by Lance A. M. Benner

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

This bird is one of the smallest that we have on this list, measuring as slightly smaller than the more common sparrow. This bird is often found nesting in deciduous areas, often building its nest deep in the forested areas.

The close-up of the white-throated sparrow head shows subtle differences between the plumage of the male and the female.

Audio by Sunny Tseng

These birds will often forage in the ground next to the undergrowth. This bird will often migrate to the south and east of the USA. This bird will produce its call from the left side of its larynx, which is linked to the bird’s central nervous system.

These birds hunt with numerous carnivores and will often eat caterpillars, grasshoppers and woodlice.

What Birds Appear In Maryland In The Short Term?

These are the birds that only appear seldom in the Maryland area. This means that they are not seen consistently throughout the year and you might have to keep a keen eye on your binoculars if you are to spot them.

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

This bird will often be seen in areas to the Northeast of the rocky mountains. They do migrate during the summer seasons, usually spending the winter in parts of Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

This bird is a highly migratory species and will only be seen in Maryland during a brief few months in the summer, so get it on your checklists when you can.

Audio by Aidan Place

Like the bird’s namesake, this one is grey from the tip of its beak to the end of its talons. They will often avoid the open wooded areas of other birds of this species and will instead prefer the dense vegetation.

During the winter season, these birds will attempt to go into the dense thicket, where there are plenty of berries and water sources.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

This next bird is another one that doesn’t hang around for long in Maryland, choosing instead to migrate to the southern parts of the country when the temperature decreases. This bird will usually inhabit dense forests, and it is often seen in larger areas of wetland and shrubland.

This bird will often be seen hunting by itself in the summer season, taking nuts, berries and the tree sap from the bark of trees. During the late Autumn, the sap of this tree is traditionally the bird’s food of choice. The chicks are often fed by both sexes of this bird species. The birds themselves are monogamous and will often mate for life.

Audio by Thomas Magarian

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

This next bird is one that is largely brown, coming with a distinctive brown-colored head and distinctive grey-streaked underparts.

This creature has a distinctive finch-shaped head, which is sometimes what causes other people to get it confused with another sort of bird. This bird will often travel in flocks and is seen in semi-open forested areas.

Audio by Matthew L. Brady

This bird will have competitive singing competitions with other males in order to compete for the attention of the female. These birds tend to check on their eggs every so often, which means that they occasionally find a parasite egg. If this happens, then they ransack the nests of all the other birds in the area.

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

This next mockingbird is an omnivore in that it eats both insects, berries, nuts and other vegetation. This bird can mimic many other breeds of bird, although not with as much accuracy as some of the other birds on this list. This bird will often forage in grassy land, allowing them to rifle through the grass to find critters.

This bird often migrates to the North of the state when the temperature in its native climate dips below a certain level.

Audio by Manuel Grosselet

These birds will usually reach sexual maturity after one year, with the male using a very complicated courtship ritual to attract the female to its nesting site. The male and the female of the species are both invested in the building of a nest.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

This next bird has very distinct sexual dysphoria between the male and the female, the male having black color with the female being more chestnut brown and speckled. The highest rate of death in this animal are head-on collisions with cars, as well as predation by larger species of bird.

The adult of this bird is around 18-22 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of 29-33 centimeters. This bird is found in the deciduous forests around the USA and in parts of Canada. This bird will leave its breeding ground in early August and will migrate to certain areas during the winter.

Audio by Keith Corliss

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

This next bird will often be found low to the shrubs and in the long grass in areas around Maryland. This bird takes its name from the shrill whistle that it gives during attack, mating and feeding. The females and males will have red sides with a white belly and a long, dark tail with white edges. They are plainer than their spotted cousins, but still stunning.

This bird can be found in the densely shrubbed areas of cities and suburban areas. These birds are often seen to arrive in places like New York around early April and will return to Maryland during the middle of November. 80% of the females of this species were seen doing their breeding and nest-building close to the ground.

Audio by Christopher McPherson

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

Finally, we have a bird that is so famous that it even has a football team named after it. With a starkly contrasting orange belly with a black back. It is a small bird with a finch-shaped head. It is a very acrobatic bird, often climbing across the branches of the trees in order to get access to insects flying through the air.

This bird will mainly eat shrubs and nectar from the trees, although it is also known to eat plenty of insects. You can often see this bird sipping sugar water from hummingbird feeders.

Audio by Jim Berry

This bird will also consume wasps, beetles, bugs and various types of spider. During the spring and the fall, this bird will be gathering sugary energy for migration.

How identify that Maryland bird!

If you are wanting to spot any of the birds that we’ve listed above but are having a hard time not disturbing them, then we would recommend our handy guide to help you locate them and keep them still so you can observe them.

1. Stop whatever you are doing

If you are traveling in the car and you’ve seen one of the rarer Maryland birds, then we would recommend that you stop and get out… slowly! Put down all the guides and any phones that you might have with you. You should also stop chatting and make sure that you are still and quiet so as not to disturb the birds.

2. Look with intent

You’ll want to mimic the behavior of your target as closely as possible. Make sure to analyze closely any exposed branch or gap in the treeline. You’ll need to run your eyeline across every section of exposed power line or branch, making sure that you take note of any interesting shapes.

Remember that a lot of birds are trying to hide or might be roosting. By studying the environment closely for a sustained period of time, you might be able to see some movement that you normally wouldn’t spot with a quick glance.

3. Listen as well as look

There is a large repository of bird calls that you can listen to on the internet. You can even match up the sounds of the bird with anything that you might hear in the wild. It might be difficult to discern between two different bird calls at the same time, so take the time to listen and separate the two.

Also, there are plenty of birds that have over 35 bird sounds in their repertoire. This is why studied listening might be very important to pick out one bird from another.

4. Repeat the instructions above

This is very important, as you’ll often miss out on something the first time around. You’ll also want to make sure that you are moving on, as you might have picked an area that is not very dense with wildlife.

If you meander around the same spot at a slow pace, the chances are that you will spot one of the birds that you are so desperately seeking.

Conclusion – common birds in Maryland

Related Questions

What are the most common backyard birds in Maryland?

Well, that will depend on what your backyard looks like and where it is. The list above pretty much covers all the common backyard birds you might see.

Should I put out feeders?

Absolutely, your backyard is the most accessible bird watching location in the world! Feeders are a great way to learn about what birds are in your area and they don’t have to cost anything. A flat plate on a raised surface with some sunflower seeds (ordinary or black oil) is the perfect way to start. So set one up today!

What is the best bird in Maryland?

My favorite is always watching the Eastern Bluebird with its beautiful markings. However, the Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland – for obvious reasons. As a stunning bird, it does the state proud and has to be the best Maryland bird.

Should I use bird checklists?

There are lots of checklists available that will help you identify which birds are in your area. You can use eBird to find them. Or you can start your own by just keeping a record of what birds you see.