Species of Special Interest

If you find one of the species of special interest listed below, please include additional details in the species comment box on your eBird checklist. This additional information will be used to better understand where these species are occurring and how to conserve those species and their habitats.

The list of special interest species includes two groups: the first is species at risk in Maryland (designated by MD DNR as S1 or S2)—these are species we are referring to as our priority species—and the second group is colonial species and Bald Eagle. For priority species, please include in your species comments a brief description of the habitat, a description of how you identified the bird, and details of any nests you find (e.g., height above ground, species of tree/shrub, number of eggs/young present). If possible, a photo or audio file should be submitted as well. If you find a species that does not have safe dates listed (i.e., a new or historical breeding species), please treat them as a priority species. For colonial species, when you find a colony please provide the location and number of nests. When you find a Bald Eagle nest, please provide the precise coordinates. In general, colonial species should only have a breeding code reported when you find a nest; otherwise their populations are likely to be overestimated because they are often seen in areas far from their breeding colonies. If you have concerns about including the precise location in the comment box, please email the information to the appropriate County Coordinator with a link to the associated checklist.

Many of these species are rare in Maryland and DC, so the checklist comment box may not be the most appropriate place for precise coordinates. But this is still valuable information, so instead, submit the checklist as normal, but follow-up with the County Coordinator and provide them the precise coordinates and a link to the associated checklist. Please do not manually hide the checklists in eBird. Hiding checklists will not only remove the checklists from public view, it will also remove the checklists from the Atlas database rendering the data you collected useless. If you would like to avoid an observation from being included in the eBird rare bird alerts (ebird.org/alerts), simply wait eight days before submitting your checklist.

The list of special interest species includes three groups:  Group A – Colonial Priority Species and Bald Eagle, Group B – Priority Species, and Group C – Historical and New Species. In general, the additional details for all three Groups should include the precise coordinates of the bird, a brief description of the habitat, and a description of the bird. If possible, a photo or audio file should be submitted as well.  If you find a nest, please record details such as where the nest is located, its height above ground, and how many eggs or young are present.

Sensitive Species

Many of these species are conservation priorities because they are not only rare, but also sensitive to disturbance, and releasing location information could result in further disturbance. These sensitive species include Northern Goshawk, Swainson’s Warbler, and rare owls (i.e., Barn, Long-eared, Short-eared, and Northern Saw-whet Owl). If you find one of these six species, please contact either the County Coordinator or the Atlas Coordinator before submitting your checklist. They will advise you on the best way to submit your data and protect the bird.

Any species that does not have a safe date listed for it is either a new or a historical breeding species. If you find a species with no safe date listed, please contact either the County Coordinator or the Atlas Coordinator before submitting your checklist.

Please remember that disturbing a sensitive species’ nest could cause them to abandon their breeding effort. Avoid disturbance, including playback, to these species as much as possible. Some of these species are listed by MD DNR as endangered or threatened. Excessive disturbance could be considered harassment, which is both unethical and illegal. Please refrain from posting locations of priority species to social media to limit potential disturbance.


Colonial species and Bald Eagle (provide location and number of nests)
Laughing Gull Black Skimmer Tricolored Heron
Least Tern Brown Pelican Black-cr. Night-heron
Gull-billed Tern Great Blue Heron Yellow-cr. Night-heron
Common Tern Great Egret Glossy Ibis
Forster’s Tern Snowy Egret Bald Eagle
Royal Tern Little Blue Heron Bank Swallow
Priority species (provide identification, habitat, and nest details; email precise coordinates of bird to the County Coordinator)  
Blue-winged Teal American Bittern Loggerhead Shrike  
Gadwall Least Bittern Winter Wren  
Common Merganser Northern Harrier Sedge Wren  
Pied-billed Grebe Sharp-shinned Hawk Pine Siskin  
Common Nighthawk Northern Goshawk Saltmarsh Sparrow  
King Rail Barn Owl Henslow’s Sparrow  
Sora Long-eared Owl Swamp Sparrow (Coastal Plain)  
Black Rail Short-eared Owl Northern Waterthrush  
Common Gallinule Northern Saw-whet Owl Golden-winged Warbler  
American Oystercatcher Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Swainson’s Warbler  
Piping Plover Peregrine Falcon Nashville Warbler  
Upland Sandpiper Alder Flycatcher Mourning Warbler