Birds of Fort Washington Park


Known primarily for its rich military history, Fort Washington Park also provides habitat for a variety of bird species. In spring and fall, migrating warblers stop in the Park to rest and forage in the forest canopy. The neotropical migrants Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula, Worm-eating Warbler, and Ovenbird nest on the forested slopes, along with year-round resident woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, and Northern Cardinals. The streams in the Park's ravines attract Louisiana Waterthrushes and Prothonotary Warblers, which also nest near the shores of Swan and Piscataway creeks and the Potomac River. American Robins, Chipping Sparrows and Baltimore Orioles nest at forest edges, or in scattered trees in picnic areas or along the entrance drive. The abandoned military batteries provide nesting ledges for Eastern Phoebes and Barn Swallows, which forage over the Park's lawns and adjacent waters. Ospreys frequently roost along the shoreline and regularly nest on offshore navigational structures. During winter, the waters of the Potomac River and Piscataway Creek are used by a variety of waterfowl species. Rafts of Lesser Scaup, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, and Ruddy Ducks are especially common. Little early successional vegetation exists in Fort Washington Park, so bird species that nest or winter in these habitats, like Gray Catbirds, White-eyed Vireos, Eastern Towhees, White-throated and Song sparrows, are rare.

Additional information on each species on the checklist can be accessed through hypertext links. Click on the species name to access general information from the Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter; a description of the information available can be obtained by clicking on the "Species" heading in the checklist. To view maps of bird distribution in the park during the nesting season of 1999, click on the summer abundance codes that are in hypertext. Distribution maps were prepared for species that are probable or confirmed nesters in the park from data collected by biologists from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Maps showing the distribution of birds detected on surveys conducted during January- February 2000 can be accessed by clicking on the winter abundance codes that are in hypertext. Additional information on the bird surveys can be accessed by clicking on the "Summer" or "Winter" headings on the checklist.

If you see any of the boldfaced species, any species not already on the checklist, or any species in a season marked by a question mark, please report the sighting to: Brent_Steury at

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