From the forested hills of the Ridge and Valley region to the rich pastures and farmlands of its river-carved valleys, the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail provides a wide diversity of habitats for birds, including the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Especially noteworthy for bird-lovers are the many rivers that flow through this region, including the Black Warrior, the Cahaba, the Coosa, and the Tallapoosa.

Anniston Museum of Natural History

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The Anniston Museum occupies landscaped grounds surrounded by a mature pine-oak hilltop forest. The woodland component coupled with the elevation makes the site well-suited for a role as a spring and fall migrant trap. Woodland songbirds and woodpeckers are present throughout the year, and the added attraction of the Museum’s outstanding exhibits make this a site worthy of inclusion on any visitor’s itinerary. The Museum serves as a Gateway site for the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, and is a good place to get help with your questions about the trail. Be sure to spend some time birding the pond in Jaycees Park at the base of the hill, just off Highway 21.

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Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Japanese Gardens, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

One of the best and most-visited sites for songbirds in the Birmingham area, particularly in spring and fall migration. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens should be high on the “must-see” list for anyone interested in birding in the Birmingham area. Concentrate on the more-natural northern end of the park, especially the Bog Gardens, the Kaul Wildflower Garden, the Fern Glade, and the paved trail loop that begins between the Wildflower Garden and the Fern Glade. The southern portion of the Alabama Woodlands trail and the Garden for Southern Living can also be rewarding.

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Birmingham Zoo

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Located within the 200 wooded acres of Lane Park, the Birmingham Zoo is one of Alabama’s most-visited tourist locations, as well as being a surprisingly productive place for year-round birding. The best birding on the grounds exists outside the Zoo itself – in and around the overflow parking areas and in the picnic grounds, where you may find most of the state’s woodpeckers, as well as Eastern Towhees, Brown Thrashers, Grey Catbirds, Carolina Wrens, and a seasonal array of sparrows in the dense understory. This is a good place to bird in conjunction with a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens across the street.

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Bull’s Gap – Pinhoti Trailhead, Talladega National Forest

Black-throated green warbler at Bull's Gap

Bull’s Gap is a ridgetop trailhead on the Pinhoti Trail in the Talladega National Forest. This makes it an excellent site for migrants in spring and fall, as well as for some notable breeding birds. Look for breeding Scarlet Tanagers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbirds, Worm-eating Warblers, and Black-and-white Warblers. This is an excellent spot for Brown-headed Nuthatches, as well as for Pileated and Hairy Woodpeckers. The ridgeline offers a good vantage point for observing soaring birds. From mid-September through early November, this area is a good hawk-watching site.

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Centre – Piedmont – Cherokee County Regional Airport

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This property is an outstanding example of short-grass habitat. There is no better place in the region to find grass sparrows (including Grasshopper in the warm months), and the fields are patrolled by Northern Harriers in the colder months. This is a prime location for Loggerhead Shrikes and American Kestrels. This is an exceptional place for Eastern Meadowlarks – their songs and calls ring out from the fields in every direction

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Cheaha State Park


Mount Cheaha is Alabama’s highest point, and it is one of the southernmost locations to find a number of the state’s more interesting breeding birds, such as Blue-headed Vireos, Cedar Waxwings, and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Additionally, Cheaha State Park is located in the middle of the Talladega National Forest.

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Cheaha State Park — Bald Rock Trail

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The Doug Ghee trail, an easy, level, ¼-mile long, handicap-accessible boardwalk, begins just beyond the historic Bald Rock Lodge in the heart of Cheaha State Park. The visitor should expect to see a wide range of woodland songbirds, most of the state’s woodpeckers (notably Pileated and Hairy), some migrants in season, and feeding flocks of wintering birds from October through March. The end of the boardwalk offers a sensational 180-degree view to the north, and is a superior hawk-watching spot from the highest point in the state.

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Cherokee Rock Village

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The boulder fields at Cherokee Rock Village stand sentinel along an east-facing ridge and overlook Weiss Lake far below. This is an extraordinary location to find Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, and Great Crested Flycatchers, and is without doubt the best site for observing soaring raptors in the state. Sample the birds in the old fields and second-growth habitats along the entrance road.

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Coleman Lake: Talladega National Forest, Shoal Creek

Appalachian Highlands | Cleburne | Best Seasons:
Yellow-throated warbler - 2

One of the most significant birding sites in Alabama, Coleman Lake is at present the only reliable location in the state for Red Crossbills, and boasts roadside looks at endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. This is a good location for Bachman’s Sparrows. It is also a great spot for viewing migrant and breeding songbirds and is excellent for spring and fall wildflowers, as well.

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East Lake Park

East Lake Park - Walking path - 1

East Lake Park is one of the best places in the Birmingham area to see birds, because it has a variety of natural features that provide food, water and shelter for a wide range of species. Using water from Roebuck Springs and Village Creek, this 45-acre lake is sheltered from the surrounding urban area by a 100-acre park. The mature hardwoods are home to many resident songbirds, as well as winter feeding flocks led by Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, as well as the usual winter finches.

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Ebenezer Swamp

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Ebenezer Swamp Ecological Preserve is an upland hardwood swamp on Spring Creek, made accessible for nature-lovers by a boardwalk built and maintained by the University of Montevallo. The dominant tree is the Tupelo Gum, with a rich mixture of other hardwoods and Loblolly Pine. The birding begins as you approach the boardwalk from the parking area.

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Five Mile Creek Greenway Brookside

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The Five Mile Creek Greenway, as it passes through the small historic community of Brookside, provides access to the banks Five Mile Creek for about 3 miles. The Greenway trail begins at the end of the Bensko Park parking lot and winds along via a wide, level, well-maintained path above the creek through alternating groves of mature open-understory hardwoods and more-dense hardwood and second-growth thickets along the banks of the creek.

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Frog Pond Overlook

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A little bit off the beaten path but well worth the time, Frog Pond Overlook merits a visit for anyone birding in the Anniston-Gadsden area. The Frog Pond itself is situated in the Choccolocco Forest. Bird the foot path to the pond for woodland species, the pond for wetland species, and the adjacent forest for canopy birds. The Frog Pond is compact, and the immediate area can be covered in 90 minutes. Allow a good half day for the surrounding forest.

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Horse Pens 40

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The boulder fields of Horse Pens 40 are a fascinating place to visit, at any time of year. The best times for birding are surely during spring and fall migration, when the elevation of the site turns the mountain into a notable migrant trap. The ridges are productive for hawk migration from September through November. Do not neglect to bird the farm and field habitat along US 231 and Ct. Clair County 35 while in the area.

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Horton Mill Covered Bridge

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Blount County is the “Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama” with three bridges: Horton Mill, Swann, and Easley. All of the bridges are set in habitat rich with the three factors that are of ultimate importance to wildlife: food, water, and shelter. Horton Mill is the most accessible of the three and is the only one with a dedicated nature trail. The nature trail follows Calvert Prong and hosts a hundred plant species, including 27 fern species.

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