At a Glance
Hours: Grounds open year-round. Monday – Saturday 10 am-4 pm; Sunday 12 noon-4 pm; closed on major holidays. Visitor Center & Museum Store open May 1-October 31. Wednesday-Saturday 10 am- 4 pm; Sunday 12 noon- 4 pm. Visitor Center & Museum Store closed November 1 – April 30.
Cost: Grounds only, May 1-October 31: nonmembers $5 per person; November 1 – April 30: $3 per person; members free. Guided tours including the house are available for an additional fee May 1-October 31.
Tips: Bring a scope. ■ Try to avoid crowds on weekends in spring and summer. ■ Restrooms at the Visitor Center.
Best Seasons: Year-round.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Broomes Island SE (main part of grounds); Hollywood NE (field south of entrance road and parking area).
44300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD 20636
Historic Sotterley is a National Historic Landmark with a history dating back to 1703. The site is located in St. Mary’s County on the banks of the Patuxent River. The property is operated as an educational facility by Historic Sotterley, a private non-profit organization, and hosts thousands of schoolchildren and visitors each year to learn about Sotterley’s 300-year history. The facility showcases the tidewater environment, the lives of those who lived and worked on-site, including those who were enslaved, and Sotterley’s role in our nation’s history.
Birders will enjoy the varied habitats at Sotterley. The grounds cover 89 acres, most of which is owned by Historic Sotterley, but there is also a 14-acre state-owned parcel that houses Sotterley’s educational facilities. The Manor House and Colonial Revival Gardens sit on a knoll overlooking hayfields and wooded ravines rolling down to the Patuxent River, with spectacular views of the open waters of the river. Birders have access to Sotterley’s six miles of natural-surface trails that wind through the woods, along the edges of the fields, and along the top of the bluff on the Patuxent River.
Since 2021, David Moulton of the Montgomery Bird Club and Southern Maryland Audubon Society, who is a member of the Board of Trustees at Sotterley, has been leading a study to determine if hay-mowing schedules can be modified to benefit Eastern Meadowlarks and Grasshopper Sparrows that nest in the fields. Initial results are promising. You can read about the project on their website; the project’s “5 Steps” brochure is a good summary of the approach.
Sotterley is a much-used site for weddings and other large events, so try to visit on weekdays when the grounds are quieter.
Over 175 species have been reported on the eBird hotspot for Historic Sotterley, which encourages birding on its network of trails. There is a second eBird Hotspot for Historic Sotterley – South, which lies in a separate Breeding Bird Atlas block (Hollywood NE); this hotspot covers a field south of the entrance drive and parking area and bounded on the west by Sotterley Road. The checklist of birds at Sotterley is still growing and all birders are encouraged to submit their lists to eBird.
The Patuxent River can be viewed from several points, for loons and diving ducks in the winter and Royal and Forster’s Terns in the summer. A Bald Eagle nest can be viewed from behind the barn. Grassland birds such as Eastern Meadowlark and Grasshopper Sparrow breed here, and Bobolinks are attracted to the open fields during migration. Common nesting landbirds include Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Orchard Oriole. Eastern Bluebirds are common, American Woodcock can be observed during their March breeding rituals, and 22 species of warblers have been found so far during spring and fall migrations.
A video of the history of Sotterley can be seen at the Visitor Center, where the restrooms are located,and you can also pick up a printed bird checklist.
The trails at Sotterley are natural surface and are not wheelchair accessible. There is some birding possible from the car along the entrance lane and in the parking area. The Visitor Center and its restrooms are wheelchair-accessible.
Pets are permitted on the grounds but must be on a leash; be prepared to clean up after your pet.
There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in St. Mary’s 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.
Paved lot near the Visitor Center.
From points north in Prince George’s or Charles Counties: Take US Route 301 south to MD Route 5/Mattawoman-Beantown Road. Turn south onto MD Route 5. In 3.2 miles, MD Route 5 makes a left to go south on Leonardtown Road. Follow Leonardtown Road for 18 miles and continue straight ahead onto MD Route 235/Three Notch Road toward Hollywood. In 9.9 miles, turn left (east) onto MD Route 245/Sotterley Road and travel 2.5 miles. Make a right to go east on Sotterley Lane, which brings you into the grounds.
From points north in Anne Arundel or Calvert Counties: Take MD Route 4 south to Solomon’s Island. Continue on MD Route 4 over the Solomon’s Island Bridge over the Patuxent River. At the first traffic light after the bridge, turn right (north) onto MD 235/Three Notch Road and go 4.1 miles. Make a right (east) onto MD Route 245/Sotterley Road. In about 2.5 miles, turn right (east) onto Sotterley Lane, which brings you into the grounds.
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby MeadowsSandy Beach or Dunes Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & Streams
Features:BeginnersGift Shop or BookstoreHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Gardens & ArboretaHistorical SitesThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails