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You are here: Home - Birding Sites - DC Sites - Northeast Corridor

The Northeast Corridor

Birdwatching in Northeast Washington, D.C.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens/Kenilworth Marsh

Where is it?

The entrance is on Anacostia Avenue between Quarles and Douglas Streets. It is just west of the I-295, otherwise known as Kenilworth Avenue. The park is situated on 14 acres of land along the east bank of the Anacostia River and is dedicated to the propagation and display of aquatic plants.

Kenilworth Marsh adds another 77 acres of swamp forest to explore. It is assessed via the Aquatic Gardens and borders it on three sides.

When to go

Migration is the best time to visit, but the area can be interesting at other times, and June/July is the best time to see the flowering aquatic plants!

Where to go

From the parking lot follow a narrow dirt path into the facility. You will shortly reach a point where several paths cross. Take the left path to the Nature Center, where you can obtain a map. Then walk around the impoundments. When you return to the path crossroads on the other side of the impoundments, take the first path on your left to the River Trail, a .7 mile long path that winds through Kenilworth Marsh and ends at the channel that connects the marsh to the tidal Anacostia River. There is also a weedy field just south of the park that is worth exploring in Spring. At the northeast corner of the impoundments a new Interpretive Boardwalk is under construction. It will eventually provide access to the Anacostia River from the impoundment area.

What to see

Herons and other Marsh birds, including Marsh Wrens and American Bittern; shorebirds; we found Glossy Ibis on the River Trail one year and a pair of Peregrine Falcons by the nature center. A day in April brought in 64 species including five herons: Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Palm Warbler, Wood Thrush.

Weedy field: Common Snipe, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak.

1998-2000 Recent and Notable Sightings: Great Egret (4/24/98, 5/29/99, 2/28/98, 8/1/98); Little Blue Heron (4/24/99, 8/1/98, Glossy Ibis (4/23/99); Black-crowned Night-Heron (5/29/99); Possible Tri-colored Heron (5/29/99); Probable Mississippi Kite (5/29/99); Wood Duck (12/29/99); Marsh Wren, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles (5/28/99); Prothonotary Warbler (8/9/98, 5/28/99); American Bittern (8/29/99, 11/22/98); Black-billed Cuckoo (5/1/99); Fox Sparrow (12/29/99); Least and Alder Flycatchers (5/31/99); Alder Flycatchers (5/23/99) (Acadians are customary here); Eastern Phoebe (1/29/99); Rusty Blackbird (4/23/99), Mississippi Kite (5/29/99).

How to get there

By Car: Follow Independence Avenue, S.W. east. In Capitol Hill around 3rd Street, S.E., you must turn left to continue on Independence Avenue. If you proceed straight, you will find yourself on Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. So, look for the Starplex Stadium/Armory sign and turn left to continue traveling Independence Avenue, S.W. eastbound. Proceed past RFK Stadium and the DC Hospital and over the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge. Follow the signs to 295 South/95 North and exit on your right. Take the left fork (95 North). You are now on DC 295. Move to the right lane and exit at Quarles Street/Eastern Avenue, N.E., which is on your right. You will see a Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens sign just before the exit. Stay in the the left lane and turn left at the light on Eastern Avenue, N.E. This will bring you around onto Kenilworth Avenue, N.E. in what will look like a "U" turn. Turn right on Douglas Street, N.W. and right again on Anacostia Avenue, N.E. at the T junction. Finally, turn left into the Aquatic Gardens at the sign. Proceed to the parking lot.

By Metro: The orange line will take you to the Minnesota Avenue exit. We will post explicit directions from here when confirmed.

Accessibility and Comfort

There is a rest facility at the Nature Center, but there is no food on-site. The dirt paths are fairly level, but may be difficult to walk when wet. After a sustained period of wetness, there will be small puddles.


RFK Stadium.


National Arboretum

Where is it?

The Arboretum is a 446-acre site that contains display gardens, botanical collections, and historical monuments set among native stands of eastern deciduous trees. The Arboretum grounds are open every day of the year except December 25th from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Administration Building is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Arboretum is located in northeast Washington, 2.2 miles from the U.S. Capitol. It is bordered on the west by Bladensburg Road, on the north by New York Avenue, and on the south by M Street. Visitor entrances are located on New York Avenue and on R Street. This review assumes that you will enter via the gate at the end of R Street, about one-half mile south of the intersection of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue (US 50).

A good way to get an overview of the Arboretum's various habitats is to ride the tram. This is a 40-minute professionally-driven open-air tram ride with a trained volunteer guide to point out history and highlights. The tram runs only on Saturdays and Sundays beginning in the Spring. There are about six runs each day. There is a charge. Check with the Arboretum for additional information.

When to go

Winter for hawks, sparrows and owls. Summer for Northern Bobwhite.

Where to go

Drive east about one mile to Hickory Hill, where you will find groves of cedar, spruce and white pine; check the ornamental conifer gardens to the northeast. South of Hickory Hill you will find a large open area with hollies, hemlocks and fruit trees. Then, follow paths east of Hickory Hill which lead to the Anacostia River.

What to see

Pick up a map at the Visitor Center. Hickory Hill: Barred and Great Horned Owls are resident. Long-eared and Barn Owls are less common. Saw-whet Owl, once resident, is a winter visitor, but hasn't been seen in a number of years, due in part to destruction of the groves it preferred. It is probably still present, but the may be hard to find. Look in the spruce groves in late December-February. You can also check for Saw-whets in the conifer grove, along with kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatch. The Virginia pines are good for lingering warblers in December or January. Cape May, Blackburnian, Pine, Palm, Black-throated Blue and Orange-Crowned have been found. Pine Siskins and crossbills have been found in the hemlock grove, although crossbills are rare and not seen each year. This is one of the few areas in the city where Eastern Bluebird breeds.

South of Hickory Hill: Look for flocks of American Robin and Cedar Waxwing. A single Bohemian Waxwing was found in a Cedar flock one winter.

Anacostia River: Here you may find some diving ducks, especially mergansers, and sometimes may see a Bald Eagle.

Anywhere: Check for breeding Northern Bobwhite in season.

1998-2000 Recent and Notable Sightings: Barred Owl, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Gray Catbird, Purple Finch, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, along with Eastern Towhee, Brown Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Bluebird and American Robin flocks (12/18/99). There have been recent winter records of Yellow-breasted Chat (12/98) and Baltimore Oriole (1/00).

How to get there

By Car: Travel north on 7th Street, N.W. or North Capitol Street, N.E. and turn right onto New York Avenue. Take care when using North Capitol Street since you must move into the service road to make a right turn on New York Avenue. Continue to Bladensburg Road, N.E. and turn right. Proceed to R Street, N.E. and make a left turn. Travel down R Street to the Arboretum gate. You can also take Independence Avenue, S.W. eastbound to 2nd Street, S.E. and go north to Maryland Avenue, N.E. Turn right and proceed to Bladensburg Road, N.E. Proceed along Bladensburg and turn right onto R Street, N.E. Continue to the gate.

By Metro: From the Stadium-Armory Station on the Orange or Blue Lines, take the B2 or B4 bus northeast up Bladensburg Road to R Street. Then walk east to the entrance.

Accessibility and Comfort

There are rest facilities on-site and a picnic area. You can bird many areas from the car. Many of the gardens are accessible. Food is available on Bladensburg Road, N.E. and New York Avenue, N.E.


The U.S. Capitol, Gallaudet University, Catholic University.


Other Areas To Explore

Kenilworth Park -- This park is near the Aquatic Gardens. The weedy borders of the playing fields here have the District's only breeding Grasshopper Sparrows and Blue Grosbeaks, while Yellow-breasted Chat may also breed. In 1999 there were intriguing mid-summer records of Horned Lark and Eastern Meadowlark, indicating they may breed somewhere nearby. This area is also good in migration for sparrows (Vesper has been seen here), snipe, and Bobolink (almost always present in May).

Fort Lincoln -- Brushy areas are good for wintering sparrows and hawks. In the past, nesting Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Grasshopper Sparrow have been reported from this location.

Catholic University -- Woody areas are good during migration and sometimes in winter. Lincoln's Sparrow have been seen here in October. Check pines for owls and tree snags for hawks. Peregrine Falcons (2/9/98, 3/14/98) have been known to nest on window ledges of the National Shrine.

Lake Kingman -- Reachable from RFK Stadium, this spot is good in winter for ducks, gulls, hawks, and sparrows.

[Anacostia Corridor] [Central Corridor] [Georgetown/American University Corridor]
[National Mall/Foggy Bottom Corridor] [Northeast Corridor]
[Potomac Viewing Corridor] [Washington Waterfront Corridor]