The 6 Best Places and Times to See Bald Eagles in Maryland
According to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the best place to see bald eagles in Maryland is along the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding tributaries. According to many, THE best spot is the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River — a Chesapeake Bay tributary.
Other great places to spot bald eagles in Maryland include the following:
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
- Patuxent Research Refuge
- Aberdeen Proving Ground
- Pocomoke River State Park
- Monocacy and Potomac Rivers, Frederick County
These massive birds love the water and often live near rivers, lakes, coasts, reservoirs, and marshes. Although they don’t live in forests, they make their huge nests in equally large trees that are easy to reach.
Bald eagles are powerful, majestic birds that can be 3 feet tall and weigh 8-15 pounds. The adults are the only ones with the characteristic white, “bald” head. Still, brown-headed juveniles are so big they are often mistaken for large hawks.
Bald eagles used to be endangered in the United States. In 1963, experts estimated there only to be about 417 nesting pairs.
Fortunately, their numbers are now thriving due to nationwide protections. As of 2007, bald eagles are no longer on the list of threatened or endangered species.
As of 2021, experts estimated there to be about 316,700 individuals in the United States and about 71,400 nesting pairs.
Learn how many bald eagles inhabit each state.
1. The Conowingo Dam
By far, the best place to see bald eagles in Maryland is the Conowingo Dam. Not only is it the best spot in Maryland, but it is one of the best spots in the United States to see bald eagles.
Bald Eagles Love the Water
Bald eagles have massive wingspans of over 6 feet, which makes it hard for them to fly through wooded areas. Instead, you’ll find them near the open water, like the Susquehanna River.
Specifically, check out the area of the Susquehanna River between Cecil and Harford counties. One wildlife photographer — Konstantine Mamalis — says they see nearly 200 bald eagles here regularly. It is an excellent spot for the birds to hunt and rest.
Why the Conowingo Dam is the Eagles’ Favorite Spot
Mamalis says the eagles travel downriver every fall. They easily pick off the fish stunned or killed by the dam’s turbines.
Bald eagles can dive at 100 miles per hour and can spot fish from hundreds of yards away. The fish near the dam are easy pickings for these hungry eagles.
The Best Spots and Times to Visit the Dam
The best time to go is when the dam is releasing water. That’s when there will be the most fish near the water’s surface.
Many local photographers say the best spot along the dam for eagles is the fishermen’s wharf. You can also spot many near the fence along the river by the parking lot.
The Susquehanna State Park and the nearby Conowingo Dam are home to many nesting bald eagles. These birds create stunningly massive nests that weigh over 1,000 pounds.
2. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is the second-best place in Maryland to spot bald eagles. The refuge has over 20,000 acres and is open to the public year-round. Visitors can hike or paddle for miles through the refuge for a chance to spot bald eagles.
There are about 150 bald eagles that call the refuge home during the winter months. They are host to one of the largest bald eagle breeding populations in the United States.
Can’t make it to the refuge? You can watch eaglets grow up thanks to the Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The organization has unobtrusive Eagle Cams that allow you to get an uninterrupted view of the babies growing up.
You probably won’t see much in the camera right now, but check back in December when the eagles begin nesting. They will start laying their eggs mid-January to late February.
3. Patuxent Research Refuge
This refuge is another excellent place to spot bald eagles. A nesting pair has been wintering there since 1989.
The Patuxent Research Refuge is the only wildlife refuge created in support of wildlife research.
4. Aberdeen Proving Ground
The Aberdeen Proving Ground sits in Harford County. The joining of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay borders the proving ground. Its proximity to the water makes it an excellent spot to see bald eagles.
The proving ground is a military installation home to a large population of bald eagles.
Every winter, the Environmental Division counts the eagles in the Aberdeen Proving Ground. They do this to protect and monitor their thriving eagle population. In 2021, the department counted 201 bald eagles in the area.
5. Pocomoke River State Park
The Pocomoke River State Park loves its bald eagles. Park officials want their visitors to see the magnificent birds.
For many years, the park has hosted Eagle Watches in January to help visitors see the birds in person. It’s unclear whether the park still hosts these tours.
Either way, Pocomoke River State Park is an excellent place to spot eagles.
6. Monocacy and Potomac Rivers, Frederick County
Frederick County, along the rivers, is another excellent place to spot bald eagles.
A mating pair tends to set up their nesting spot near Point of Rocks, MD, year after year. There is even a campsite in Point of Rocks called “Bald Eagle Island Campsite.”
The Best Time of Year to See Bald Eagles in Maryland is Late Fall to Early Winter
You can spot bald eagles any time of year in Maryland. Still, the best time is fall and early winter, from November through January.
About 200 bald eagles migrate to the Conowingo Dam from New York and Canada. Up north, the rivers and lakes of their summer homes have frozen over and make hunting far more difficult. So, the eagles make their way south.
Try to go on a day that it’s warmer, as the eagles seem to prefer flying then.
Summary of the 6 Best Places and Times to See Bald Eagles in Maryland
|Conewago Dam||Public access — 2569 Shures Landing Road, Darlington, MD||Popular hunting and resting spot for 200 eagles|
|Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge||2145 Key Wallace Drive Cambridge, MD, 21613-9536||*Winter home to 150 bald eagles|
|Patuxent Research Refuge||10901 Scarlet Tanager LoopLaurel, MD 20708-4036||Wildlife research and eagle spotting|
|Aberdeen Proving Ground||Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005||Bald eagle protection|
|Pokomoke River State Park||3461 Worcester Hwy, Snow Hill, MD 21863||Eagle watches and large eagle populations|
|Monocacy and Potomac Rivers||Frederick County||Good nesting spot|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Brian E Kushner/Shutterstock.com