Birds of Greenbelt Park and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway


Greenbelt Park constitutes one of the largest tracts of forest inside the Washington Beltway. Upland forest trees include Virginia Pine and oaks, often with an understory dominated by American Holly, Mountain Laurel, or blueberries. This habitat supports nesting populations of Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Pine Warbler, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, and Eastern Towhee. Oaks killed or damaged by outbreaks of gypsy moth caterpillars (Lymantria dispar) in years past provide nesting cavities for Great Crested Flycatchers and for resident woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Carolina Wrens. Hooded and Kentucky warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes nest in the forest bordering the park's streams. In fall and winter, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and, in some years, Red-breasted Nuthatches, join foraging flocks of resident birds, and the abundant fruits of American Holly attract occasional Hermit Thrushes and flocks of American Robins. Many species of flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, and warblers use the forest during migration. Scrubby vegetation along forest edges or in disturbed areas provides nesting habitat for a few Gray Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, Blue Grosbeaks, and Indigo Buntings. Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and occasional other sparrows use these habitats in other seasons. Urban birds like Rock Dove, House Wren, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, House Finch, and House Sparrow are found sparingly in Greenbelt Park, mostly along the edges that border residential neighborhoods.

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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