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Birdwatching

Birding on the lower Shore is nothing short of fantastic. The region is an important resting and breeding stop along the Atlantic Flyway for countless birds, with more bird sightings recorded here than anywhere else in the state. Canada geese, snow geese, brant, tundra swans, canvasback ducks, pintail, widgeon, mergansers, bufflehead and many others use this area for their winter resting and feeding grounds. Late November is the peak time for waterfowl migration.

The best season depends on your birding preference as there is no "bad" time to bird on the Eastern Shore. Spring hosts shorebirds, neo-tropicals (birds that winter in South America and spend summers in the north) and summer residents; summer sponsors gulls, pelicans, cormorants, ibis and graceful herons; fall has an overlap of incoming waterfowl and outgoing summer birds; and during winter there are loons, hawks, quail and owls to name just a few.

You can break down your birding into geographic location. If you've got your sights set on coastal birds look towards the beaches of Ocean City and Assateague Island to begin your search. Offshore you can spot storm petrel, skua or razorbill. Closer insore, one can find gannets, brown pelicans, terns; shorebirds are abundant on the beaches and bay shores and come in a variety of shapes, colors and names.Good luck. Marshes around Assateague, Public Landing, Taylors Landing and Rumbley will yield wrens, glossy ibis, rails, redwings, bitterns, hawks and lots of herons. Mud flats on the seaside behind Assateague Park or Ocean City are great places to see a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. Riparian areas such as along the Nanticoke and Annamessex Rivers host neo-tropicals such as red-eyed vireos, along with wood ducks, owls and various hawks. Upland habitat near Snow Hill and Pocomoke will hold woodcock, bluebirds and indigo bunting. Check out stream crossings anywhere during the spring to see bottom lands and forest birds. There are several types of bird lists available from state, county and federal wildlife and tourism-related offices in the region.

 
State parks or wildlife management areas located near coastal bays offer the best place to see a variety of birds in one visit. Get your fill of waterfowl, herons, shorebirds, raptors and waders. Hike the nature trails near creeks such as the Nassawango outside Snow Hill to look for colorful pileated woodpeckers or warblers, including the secretive golden prothonotary which raise their young in the dense bald cypress swamp. Attend the Delmarva Birding Weekend held each year during the last weekend in April.

 
Join outdoor clubs, state parks or the National Seashore on Assateague Island. Canoe a back creek near Snow Hill and meander for a few hours. Look for peregrine falcons on the beach in early fall, especially just after a nor'easter blows through. Or rent a canoe on Assateague and see amazing coastal birds.

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