Carl W. Carlson, 66, a retired official of the Department of Housing and Urban Development who was a founder and the first president of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, died of cardiorespiratory failure June 20 at Suburban Hospital.

Mr. Carlson, who was born in Duluth, Minn., attended the University of Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in geography and zoology.

He moved to Washington in 1939 and went to work for the Census Bureau. During World War II, he worked in the Lend-lease foreign assistance program. He later worked for a number of other government agencies. At the time of his retirement from HUD in the early 1970s, he was an ecology analyst there. He later was a private consultant for Ecology and Environment Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y.

Mr. Carlson was a former director of the Audubon Naturalist Society. For some years, he wrote a series of "where to go" articles that were published by the society in the Atlantic Naturalist on where to find birds in this part of the country. He helped found the Montgomery chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in 1964.

Survivors include his wife, Kate Hall Carlson of Bethesda, a son, Carl William Anders Carlson of Vista, N.Y., and three granddaughters.