Washington D.C.

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina ©Steve Maslowski - US Fish and Wildlife Service Website
Birding Washington, DC

D.C. is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. The City of Washington used to be a separate municipality within the District of Columbia until an Act of Congress in 1871 effectively merged the City and the District into a single entity. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 588,292; however, due to commuters from the surrounding suburbs, its population rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which the District is a part, has a population of 5.3 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are located in the District, as are many of the nation’s monuments and museums.

Washington, D.C. has a total area of 68.3 square miles (177 km2), of which 61.4 square miles (159 km2) is land and 6.9 square miles (18 km2) (10.16%) is water.[36] . Washington is therefore surrounded by the states of Maryland to the southeast, northeast, and northwest and Virginia to the southwest. The District has three major natural flowing streams: the Potomac River, the Anacostia River, and Rock Creek. The Anacostia River and Rock Creek are tributaries of the Potomac

The U.S. National Park Service manages most of the natural habitat in Washington, D.C., including Rock Creek Park, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the National Mall, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Anacostia Park.[42] The only significant area of natural habitat not managed by the National Park Service is the U.S. National Arboretum, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.[43] The Great Falls of the Potomac River are located upstream (i.e. northwest) of Washington.

Washington has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa), typical of Mid-Atlantic U.S. areas removed from bodies of water, with four distinct seasons. The District is located in plant hardiness zone 8a near downtown, and zone 7b elsewhere in the city, indicating a temperate climate.[46] Spring and fall are mild, with low humidity, while winter brings sustained cool temperatures and annual snowfall averaging 16.6 inches (420 mm). Average winter lows tend to be around 30 °F (-1 °C) from mid-December to mid-February. Blizzards affect Washington on average once every four to six years. The most violent storms are called “nor’easters”, which typically feature high winds, heavy rains, and occasional snow. These storms often affect large sections of the U.S. East Coast.[47]

Summers tend to be hot and humid, with daily high temperatures in July and August averaging in the high 80s °F (about 30 °C). The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area. While hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and early fall, they have often weakened by the time they reach Washington, partly due to the city’s inland location. Flooding of the Potomac River, however, caused by a combination of high tide, storm surge, and runoff, has been known to cause extensive property damage in Georgetown.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 331

    (As at November 2018)

    Official Bird - Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Greater Washington, D.C.

    | By Marc Parnell | Naturalist & Traveler Press | 2021 | Paperback | 296 pages, colour photos | ISBN: 9781954228221 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Maryland & Delaware Field Guide Includes Washington, D.C., & the Chesapeake Bay

    | By Stan Tekiela | Adventure Publications | 2023 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 392 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781647553708 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia

    | By Bruce M Beehler | Johns Hopkins University Press | 2019 | Hardback | 504 pages, 684 colour photos, 2 maps | ISBN: 9781421427331 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Maryland & DC Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

    | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2000 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations | ISBN: 9781583551516 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia

    | Edited by Walter G Ellison | Johns Hopkins University Press | 2011 | Hardback | 494 pages, colour photos, b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps, tables | ISBN: 9780801895760 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Museums & Universities
  • Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre

    The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is dedicated to fostering greater understanding, appreciation, and protection of bird migration. This Smithsonian Institution research program was founded with Congressional support in 1991, and was incorporated in 1997 as part of the National Zoological Park, located in Washington, D.C.; it came under the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, established in 2010.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - National Bird Collection

    The Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, houses and maintains the third largest bird collection in the world with over 640,000 specimens. Our National Collection, known in the ornithological literature by the acronym USNM (referring to our old name of United States National Museum), has representatives of about 80% of the approximately 9,600 known species in the world's avifauna.
  • Audubon Naturalist Society

    Welcome to the Audubon Naturalist Society, the oldest independent environmental organization in the Washington, DC region. A pioneer in linking conservation activities with environmental education.
  • DC Audubon Society

    DC’s official bird, the Wood Thrush, Glover Park, Washington, DCOur goal is to promote the appreciation and conservation of birds and their habitats through the participation of those in the DC area. Whether you’re someone who appreciates the sounds of the birds, a backyard feeder, or an experienced birder, we warmly welcome people of all skill levels. All trips are free, open to the public, and we have a limited number of extra binoculars available for use.
  • District of Columbia Records Committee

    The MOS Records Committee MD/DCRC evaluates reports of sightings of new or very rare birds species in Maryland or DC to convert them into documented records that can be used reliably for scientific studies of bird distribution and patterns of avian vagrancy. The Committee has written goals, criteria for acceptance, and other policies and procedures which govern the operations of the Committee. If you’ve seen a rare bird in Maryland or DC please report it.
  • Nature Conservancy Maryland/DC

    Make a Difference in Maryland and DC - Our work is focused on two areas where our outcomes can have the greatest impact: protecting clean water and tackling climate change. Our efforts span the region, from western Maryland's Central Appalachian forests to our nation's capital and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Sierra Club Washington DC Chapter

    For over 40 years, the D.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club has worked successfully to protect and improve the environment in the Nation's capital. We are a volunteer-driven Chapter and depend on the help of local Sierra Club members and activists to make an impact. To find out more about getting involved with the D.C. Chapter, please email Rebekah, our Chapter Organizer, or call 202-675-2391.
Places to Stay
  • Morrison-Clark Inn

    The perfect urban oasis for visitors to downtown Washington. Victorian decor is alive in DCs finest historic inn
Other Links
  • A Beginner’s Guide To Bird-Watching Around D.C. - Dayana Mustak

    Every year, as the temperatures start to climb in the spring, our region plays host to over 200 species of birds that are moving north after spending winter in South America. While some species are only passing through on their way further north to Canada or even the Arctic, others will be building nests right here in the Washington region as they breed throughout the summer.
  • Best Places for Bird Watching Near Washington, D.C.

    While watching pigeons flutter around on the sidewalks is an everyday occurrence, some people take it to the next level. Birding watching is a serious hobby that can be calming and fun. There may not seem to be a lot of different birds in D.C., but there are more than you realize. These are some of the best places for bird watching near Washington, D.C.
  • Birding DC

    If you are planning to visit Washington, for business or pleasure, and would like an escorted trip to top birding sites around the city and surrounding area, then please browse through our website to see what we can offer.
  • Birding in D.C.

    Discover an Amazing Diversity of Birds in the Nation's Capital - National parks in the Washington, D.C. area provide vital greenspace for wildlife, along with easy access from roads and public transportation for visitors. A rich mixture of woodlands, parkland, marshes, and aquatic environments provide essential habitat for a great number of year-round bird residents and for migrants traveling along the Atlantic Flyway. What will you discover?
  • Birding in DC

    Many Washington residents, including some birders, limit their driving by necessity or by choice. Can birding still be viable without driving? Yes, if you use public transportation! The best birding sites in the District are close to Metro stations or bus routes. Birding by Metro offers great opportunities for finding birds. In the process, you can get more exercise, see more of the District, and reduce your impact on the environment.
  • Maryland & Washington DC - Birding Guide

    Since mid-March of 2020, parks and preserves of all kinds, from national parks to local parks, have closed their grounds because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Maryland and DC are now in the process of re-opening but the level of re-opening varies from county to county and city to city. There are also differences among local parks, state parks, national parks, and private facilities. Cancellations are still in effect at almost all facilities in terms of group activities such as bird walks, programs, events, and festivals. Before you visit, call or check the website for any place you plan to go to find out the status and any restrictions and/or guidelines. Be safe and good birding!
  • John Beetham - A DC Birding Blog

    I am a birdwatcher and blogger from Washington, DC. After thinking about it for some time, I started blogging in June 2005 as a way to record and publish my bird observations and as a way to keep up my writing skills…

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content