Charles County

Charles County is one of the five counties within Maryland’s Southern Region, and occupies the southwest quadrant of the region. The county seat is La Plata, located in the middle of the county.

Charles County has 286+ species reported on eBird. For the county eBird checklist, eBird hotspots, and more, click here.

View a comparison of Maryland counties based on total number of species reported on eBird.

The county’s western border is formed by the Potomac River, and part of the eastern border is the Patuxent River. Adjoining counties are Prince George’s to the north; Calvert and St. Mary’s to the east; and parts of Virginia to the west and south, across the Potomac River.

Charles County’s Potomac River shore is much indented, with many tidal tributaries flowing into the Potomac River through bays and inlets. Some of the Potomac shore is characterized by cliffs and bluffs, while other areas are low-lying marshland or sandy beach. The county’s waters range from freshwater in the interior tidal waterways to brackish near the Potomac. Much of the interior is hilly and forested, with interspersed agricultural fields. Wetlands are abundant. There are hidden residential estates as well as typical suburban developments, but much of the county is surprisingly undeveloped, considering its proximity to Washington, DC. It is notable that four of the National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Areas are located in Charles County, an indication of the richness of the habitat there.

US Route 301 (Crain Highway) is the main north-south corridor, and the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge connects Charles County to Virginia, carrying Route 301 over the Potomac. A large number of state routes criss-cross the county to reach the innumerable peninsulas and necks.

To view the State Highway Administration’s printable road map of Charles County (PDF format), please click here.

There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Charles County, but many birders participate in MOS through the Anne Arundel Bird Club or the Patuxent Bird Club; both of these MOS chapters offer field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public. In addition, the Southern MD Audubon Society serves birders in Charles, Calvert, St.Mary’s and Prince George’s Counties.

Explore birding sites in Charles County by choosing from the list below.