At a Glance
Hours: Sunrise to sunset.
Tips: No restrooms. ■ Do not trespass on the private Izaak Walton League property adjoining Lois Green to the north; the League property is signposted. ■ Note that when you leave the Lois Green parking area, you must turn right – left turn is prohibited.
Best Seasons: Fall, winter, spring.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Gaithersburg CE
Lois Y. Green Conservation Park
8711 Snouffer School Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20879
The Lois Y. Green Conservation Park (aka Green Farm Conservation Park) consists of a 200-acre parcel that Mrs. Green gave to Montgomery County Parks in 1975, plus an additional dedicated stream buffer area of 50 acres. When Mrs. Green donated the park, she specifically directed that the park was to “be used as an open space, for parkland, and for recreation in such a manner as to evidence the conservation of soil, water, woods, and wildlife… and shall be maintained essentially in its natural condition…” Today the park is a remarkable oasis in a highly developed area of Montgomery County with natural areas that create a feeling of respite and retreat.
The park offers a good diversity of habitats, with a large expanse of meadow, woodlands, and a stream valley. There are two small ponds that can be attractive to waterfowl in the colder months.
The trails are well-maintained; be aware that there are some steep sections. Walk the grassy trail from the parking lot, beneath the takeoff/landing path for the adjacent air park, and watch/listen for activity in the woods to the left and overgrown field to the right. Use any of the three loop trails further along; these are shown on the trail map at the link at left. Approach the ponds stealthily to avoid flushing waterfowl.
Note that on the trail map, trails designated as “Shared by All” are used by hikers, bikers, and equestrians, while the Butterfly Loop Trail is restricted to foot-traffic.
Over 195 species have been reported from the eBird hotspot for Lois Y. Green Conservation Park, a remarkable number in such a highly developed suburban neighborhood. Overall, the birdlife is representative of upland forest and meadows.
Dabbling and diving ducks are found in both ponds in winter; Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and Mallards breed here and are present almost year-round. The ponds or the stream may also attract shorebirds when water levels fall and allow mudflats to form. Shorebirds that have occurred somewhat regularly include Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Great Blue Herons are present year-round, and Green Herons may be found here from May through September, along with a Great Egret or two.
Migrating raptors can be seen in both spring and fall, while year-round raptors include Black and Turkey Vultures, Cooper’s Hawks, and Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. Ospreys are present in the summer and Bald Eagles in the winter. American Kestrels might still be found in the meadow areas.
Overhead near the ponds in summer, watch for Chimney Swifts, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Purple Martins, and Tree and Barn Swallows.
In spring and fall, look for passerine migrants in the hedgerows and forested areas. In breeding season, check the woodlands for typical forest breeding birds such as flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, Scarlet Tanagers, and small woodland species such as chickadees titmice, nuthatches, and gnatcatchers. In winter, expect kinglets and Brown Creepers in the woods. Woodpeckers are mostly present year-round, with the exception of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (Winter only) and Red-headed Woodpeckers (migration).
Expect House Wrens in summer, Winters Wrens in winter, and Carolina wrens year-round.
Breeding Field Sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds are found in the more open, overgrown field areas. Prairie Warblers and Yellow-breasted Chats also breed in the scrubby fields, and it may be possible to find Eastern Meadowlarks. Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and Orchard Orioles are found in scrubby second-growth and young woods, and Baltimore Orioles are near the ponds and stream valley.
Altogether, 32 species of warblers have been identified at Lois Green. Breeding species include Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, and the aforementioned Prairie; the remaining warbler species are fall and spring migrants.
Sparrows, juncos and towhees are regular in fall, winter, and spring.
The trails at Lois Green Conservation Park are natural surface and are not wheelchair accessible.
Pets are allowed on leash; pick up after your pet.
The native plants in the meadows and woodlands create excellent habitat for butterflies and other pollinators in the warm months.
Montgomery County Parks has an interactive map available at https://mcatlas.org/parks. As you zoom in on a county park, detailed features such as trails, parking, picnic areas, trail-heads, and restrooms will be displayed.
Local MOS Chapter:
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Montgomery Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
The Montgomery Bird Club has published A Birder’s Guide to Montgomery County, Maryland (2008); this comprehensive, detailed book covers 17 major birding sites plus 18 “little treasures” in the county. The book is now out of print but is available as a free downloadable PDF, courtesy of the Montgomery Bird Club.
Paved lot off Snouffer School Road.
From I-495/DC Beltway: Take I-270 north for about 6.7 miles, to Exit 8 for Shady Grove Road northbound. Stay on Shady Grove for approximately 3.5 miles, then turn left to go west on MD Route 115/Muncaster Mill Road. At the intersection with Woodfield Road, the name of the road will change to Snouffers School Road; continue straight ahead. From Shady Grove Road, it is about 2.2 miles to the entrance to Lois Y. Green Conservation Park, which will be on the right (north) side of the road, just past Centerway Road on the left.
Montgomery County: Black Hill Regional Park ■ Blue Mash Nature Trail ■ C&O Canal – Pennyfield, Violette’s & Riley’s Locks ■ Little Bennett Regional Park ■ McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area (Hughes Hollow) ■ Rock Creek Regional Park – Lake Needwood ■ Rock Creek Regional Park – Meadowside Nature Center & Lake Frank ■ Seneca Creek State Park ■ Triadelphia Reservoir (Brighton Dam) ■ Wheaton Regional Park – Brookside Gardens, Brookside Nature Center, Pine Lake Area
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Free - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsHorseback RidingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedWater ViewYoung People / Families