The Birds of Rock Creek

Winding its way through D.C. for miles, Rock Creek Park provides needed respite and relaxation for Washingtonians and a home for over 160 types of birds. Despite the park being surrounded by dense urban sprawl, the deeply forested valleys and stream provide an ideal home for wildlife to flourish. 


The park is home to both the Barred Owl as well as the Great Horned Owl. At the end of winter the Barred Owl can be seen nesting high up in the forest as it waits for its owlets to hatch in spring. After living in the nest for about 5 weeks the owlets will fledge and begin their first summer of life in the park.

Another sign of life in the spring are the ducklings that begin their new lives in Rock Creek. The park is home to both Mallards and Wood Ducks as well as others.

Wood ducks

A wonderful new addition to the spring and early summer to the park is the American Bald Eagle. The eagles like to be near the creek but are quite shy and mostly can only be seen from afar. 

Another bird which makes its home in the park during the summer months is the large and majestic Great Blue Heron. The herons can be seen in the creek fishing and despite their size, high up in the trees resting. On at least a few lucky days throughout the summer the Green Heron can also be seen perched on an overhanging branch waiting for its catch to come by.

Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Green Heron

Also buzzing up and down the creek in the summertime is the hummingbird. A great deal of patience and good eyesight is required but they can be seen feeding on wildflowers along the banks of the creek.

Along with the eagle and the owl, another bird of prey which can be seen in the park is the Coopers hawk as well as the Red-shouldered hawk. The park and its forests provide a rich hunting ground for these birds to thrive. 

Cooper’s hawk
Red-shouldered hawk

With 1800 acres of primarily woodland, the beautiful Pileated woodpecker can frequently be both seen as well as heard, due to its unique call.

Next time you find yourself in Rock Creek Park, take the time to look up toward the tree tops to discover this wonderful world in the heart of our city.

All photographs copyright to Rob Klug

For another amazing piece of nature inside the city limits, check out our post about Constitution Gardens and its bird population.

Join the Conversation


  1. What great photographs! I’ve seen most of these locally, but I’ve never seen an owl. One of my favorite birds, wonderful capture 📸

    1. Thanks for reading this – Rob’s photos are really extraordinary, aren’t they?

  2. Wow, what a bunch of fantastic photos! I bike through the park everyday and have seen a few of these birds but never appreciated them. I will have to start paying attention and stop every once in a while to enjoy this magnificent park we have. Thanks for a great article!

  3. I am a great admirer of Rob and his photography and this collection is an good example of why! Thanks to those who make it possible for all of us to enjoy the magnificence of our natural environment.

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