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Hotspots Near You

311. Old Legislative Rd. S.W., Allegany County, Maryland

This western Maryland hotspot is a great place for Henslow’s Sparrow and Golden-winged Warbler.

My first time birding at Old Legislative Rd. was awkward. I did not have proper directions and ended up, unknowingly, trespassing on private property. The entrance to the birding area is an unmarked path, but there are several other unmarked paths on the road, and I chose the wrong one. As a birder, I’ve found accidental trespassing is inevitable from time to time, and after another visit, I got the hang of this rural area. From that point forward, my birding experiences here blossomed. Where else in Maryland can you get great looks at Henslow’s Sparrows and Golden-winged Warblers on their breeding grounds?

Driving along Old Legislative Rd., past the hotspot, the melodic whistling of Eastern Meadowlarks in the grasses along with the bouncing cadence of Field Sparrows can be heard clearly from a vehicle. Listen a bit longer to these grassland species and the metallic staccatos of the Henslow’s Sparrows pierce through the air. For me, it’s all about the scenery in this part of Maryland, so, if the birds reveal themselves, that’s a bonus.

Each eBird hotspot located within 30 minutes of Old Legislative Rd. has its own allure. Whether it’s Sandhill Cranes at Cherry Creek Glades or a wintertime Rough-legged Hawk hunting around Mosser Rd., there’s something to see at every turn down these country roads.

311. Old Legislative Rd. S.W., Allegany County, Maryland

Directions

The Old Legislative Rd. S.W. birding hotspot is located 3 miles south of the city of Frostburg. From I-68, take exit 33 for Midlothian Rd. Turn south onto MD-736/Braddock Rd./Midlothian Rd., which soon turns into Old Legislative Rd. S.W. Drive 2.5 miles south. The destination is on the left 0.2 miles after you pass Klondike Rd. S.W.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
39°36’16.28”N 78°57’17.69”W

Habitat

Grasslands and reclaimed surface mines.

Terrain

Steep and rocky. Not wheelchair-accessible. Birds can be heard from a car, not seen.

Birds

More than 150 species. Winter: Wild Turkey, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Pine Siskin, Fox and White-throated Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbird. Summer: Wood Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Woodcock, Great Blue and Green Herons, Black and Turkey Vultures, Broad-winged, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s Hawks, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Barred Owl, Henslow’s Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Cliff Swallow. Rarities: Northern Shrike, Ruffed Grouse, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler.

When to go

Year-round. Early morning.

Amenities

No facilities.

Access

State-owned abandoned coal mine. Free. Must drive to location. Park on west side of road, in front of gate, then cross the road to reach the trail, which leads up a hill to the east. A maximum of three cars can fit when parked perpendicularly to the road.

Tips

Golden-winged Warblers are challenging to find; watch for them in shrubby/woody area along road. Wear hiking shoes or boots. Area tends to be cooler than the lower elevations to the east (on some days by 10 degrees), even in the spring and summer. Binoculars and scope are a must. Bring photography equipment.

For more info

Allegany & Garrett County Bird Club 
Maryland Ornithological Society

Sites nearby

Finzel Swamp
Eight miles north of Old Legislative Rd. S.W., at 305 Cranberry Swamp Rd. This mountain bog is a good place to look for Ruffed Grouse in Maryland. One of the last two places in the state to see American larch trees.

New Germany State Park
Approximately 18 miles west of Old Legislative Rd. S.W. in the mountainous region of Garrett County. Hosts a breeding population of Red-breasted Nuthatch and is excellent for breeding Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, and Magnolia Warblers.

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Orietta C. Estrada

Orietta C. Estrada is the editor of The Maryland Yellowthroat, a bimonthly publication of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and a wildlife columnist. She is also a master naturalist and vice president of the Frederick Bird Club.

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