At a Glance
Hours: Sunrise to sunset, daily.
Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ There are spots on North Point Road just north of the park where you can pull over and check the shoreline for ducks, gulls, and terns.
Best Seasons: Winter, spring, and fall.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Sparrows Point CW, Sparrows Point CE
Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club
Fort Howard Park
9500 North Point Road, Fort Howard, MD 21052
Fort Howard Park is a Baltimore County facility on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, southeast of the City of Baltimore and two miles south of North Point State Park. The park is located at the southern tip of a peninsula where the Patapsco River opens into the Chesapeake Bay. The actual tip of the peninsula, within the park, is known as North Point. The park occupies land that was the site of a British invasion during the War of 1812. The British landed here and then moved inland, with the goal of capturing Baltimore. The British were defeated in the Battle of North Point, as well as at Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame) a few days later. A fortified military installation was established here in 1899, to provide protection for the entry to Baltimore harbor; Fort Howard became known as “the Bulldog at the Gates,” a reference to its strategic position guarding the entry to the harbor. The Fort was eventually decommissioned in 1940. Many of the military buildings are still here, including the gun batteries (most now covered by vegetation).
For the birder, the lure of Fort Howard lies in its strategic position at the end of a south-facing peninsula, making it a dynamic migrant trap, especially during fall migration. Habitats at Fort Howard include bayshore, tidal wetlands, high grass near the water, lawns, hedgerows, isolated trees, and some woodland. The park is bordered by the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay and Shallow Creek runs through it, providing a diversity of wetland, shore, and streamside habitats. A pier at the point provides an excellent view of the Bay. The park is small (93 acres) and can easily be covered in an hour or two. The location also makes it a great place to look for waterfowl during winter and early spring.
Over 220 bird species have been reported on eBird from Fort Howard Park. Most birders visit in the winter, when deep water fairly close to shore can host Common Loon, grebes, and a wide variety of diving ducks. Dabbling ducks may also be present in the shallower waters. Look for an assortment of sparrows in the overgrown areas from September through May. In invasion years, winter finches such as Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll favor the park’s many sweet gum trees.
The shoreline provides a good place to look for gulls (year-round) and terns (April through October). Swallows cruise the shoreline as well as the grassy fields from March through October. Spring and fall migration can bring an excellent assortment of warblers and other passerines.
Large, paved lot at the end of the entrance drive.
Did you know: North Point takes its name not from geography, but from Captain Robert North, who in the late 1700s operated a commercial sailing vessel out of the area now occupied by Fort Howard, at the tip of the peninsula. Captain North named the area after himself. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Baltimore Bird Club. The Baltimore Bird Club is the founding chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and remains an important hub of birding activity in the state. The club offers monthly meetings with informative presentations and a full schedule of field trips and bird walks, all free and open to the public.
From the north or east side of the Baltimore Beltway/I-695: Take the Inner Loop of the Baltimore Beltway/I-695 toward Essex/Key Bridge. Follow I-695 to Exit 42 (MD Route 151/North Point Boulevard). Exit and bear right onto MD Route 151 south to the first traffic light. Make a left onto North Point Road. Follow North Point Road southbound through the town of Edgemere for 4.3 miles to Fort Howard, passing the entrance to North Point State Park on the left. As you approach Fort Howard, bear left to the park entrance (the right fork goes to the old Fort Howard Veterans Affairs facility).
From the south or west side of the Baltimore Beltway: Take the Outer Loop of the Baltimore Beltway/I-695 toward Glen Burnie/Key Bridge. Follow I-695 over the Key Bridge (toll) to Exit 43 (MD Route 158/Bethlehem Boulevard). Get off at Exit 43 and make a left at the first traffic light onto MD Route 158/Bethlehem Boulevard. Follow Bethlehem Boulevard east for one mile to North Point Boulevard. Cross over North Point Boulevard onto North Point Road. Follow North Point Road southbound through the town of Edgemere for 4.3 miles to Fort Howard, passing North Point State Park on left. As you approach Fort Howard, bear left to the park entrance (the right fork goes to the old Fort Howard Veterans Affairs facility).
North Point State Park; Hart-Miller Island State Park; Fort McHenry National Monument; Patterson Park; Druid Hill Park; Gunpowder Falls State Park; Marshy Point Nature Center; Fort Smallwood Park; Kinder Farm Park.
HedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseSuburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or Estuary
Features:BeginnersFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Western ShoreCounty ParksHistorical SitesThe Rivers of the Western Shore