Antietam National Battlefield
5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg, MD 21782
Antietam National Battlefield offers birders the opportunity to combine bird watching with touring a historic Civil War battlefield. The Battlefield is managed by the National Park Service. Included on the 3,700 acre site is a visitor’s center and national cemetery. Antietam Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, runs through the eastern part of the Battlefield. Nature trails are situated in the well traveled parts of the battlefield and also on the outskirts where there are fewer visitors. The trails are gently rolling, but the surface can be slightly uneven, so good walking shoes are recommended.
There is also a mapped auto tour through much of the Battlefield; see map at trail guide link at left.
Probably the best areas to view birds are in the portion of the park south of MD Route 34/Boonsboro Pike, including the Snavely’s Ford Trail through a wooded section in the southeast corner of the park, as well as along the edge of Antietam Creek in the Sherrick Farm area. The open fields throughout the park provide great habitat for a range of birds, namely, Eastern Bluebird, Horned Lark, and in areas with higher grass, Grasshopper Sparrow. Small stands of trees and wooded areas attract a different group, such as Pileated Woodpecker, Red-Tailed Hawk, and various passerines.
Over 150 species have been reported on eBird from Antietam. During the warm months, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Indigo Bunting, and Red-headed Woodpecker can be found at the Battlefield, along with flycatchers, vireos, and warblers. Raptors are also found throughout the park. During spring, Red-tailed Hawks are commonly seen. Other common raptor sightings include Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawk, American Kestrel, and an occasional Broad-winged Hawk.
In the fall, Great Blue Herons are frequently spotted along Antietam Creek. White-crowned Sparrows are among the wintering species. At night, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, and Great Horned Owls can be heard. Perhaps the most visible birds hovering over the park are Turkey and Black Vultures. There is an active bluebird nest box program easily observed nest boxes throughout the park.
Paved lots and along roadsides. See Trail Map at link at left.
For those who are mobility impaired, the mapped auto tour route offers an opportunity to bird from or near the car. ◾ The historic nature of Antietam Battlefield, with its many monuments and farm sites, makes it a unique place to bird at any season of year. A number of organized hikes of the Battlefield as well as reenactments are held, along with major celebrations on some national holidays. Consult the calendar at https://www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/calendar.htm if you would prefer to avoid crowds when visiting for birding. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Washington County Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with information presentations, all free and open to the public.
Take I-70 to exit 29 for MD Route 65/Sharpsburg Pike. Follow MD Route 65 south for 10 miles. After passing Sharpe Lane on the left, watch for a sign for the Visitor Center. Turn left onto Dunker Church Road for the Visitor Center. A number of monuments and historic markers can be observed on the approach to the main entrance.
C&O Canal – Mouth of Monocacy to Brunswick; Indian Springs WMA; Fort Frederick State Park – Big Pool; Greenbrier State Park; Sideling Hill WMA and Environs.
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Rivers & Streams
BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Birding By CarHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Hiker-Biker Trails (Paved)Historical SitesNational Parks & Monuments