Landscapes in the region range from tupelo swamps to blazing fields of wildflowers, and towering forests of oak and hickory to vast sheets of open water replete with loafing waterfowl.

As the habitats vary through the valley, so do the seasons. Spring is heralded by the return of neotropical songbirds that stop in while on their journey northward. Summer is filled with breeding woodland species such as flashy Pileated and Red-headed woodpeckers, boisterous Great-crested Flycatchers and Carolina Wrens, and skulking Kentucky and Swainson’s warblers. In the fall, migrant waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, and a variety of raptors return to spend the winter in the valley, or at least pass through on their way farther south.

Once winter’s chill is in the air, large roosts of Bald Eagles form and stragglers from farther north can be found with the abundant waterfowl and gulls.

Bankhead National Forest – Central Firetower

Brown-headed Nuthatch/Credit: Paul Franklin

Bankhead National Forest (Site # 14, Northwest Loop) encompasses 180,000 acres of public land crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of deep canyons, providing an adventurous environment for hours or days of exploration. Habitats in the national forest ra …

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Bankhead National Forest – Sipsey Wilderness Trailhead

Cerulean Warbler/Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bill Dyer

Bankhead National Forest’s Sipsey Wilderness Trail  (Site #15, Northwest Loop) takes the birder a step back in time with its tinkling waterfalls and moss-covered stones decorating one of the finest forests Alabama has to offer. Each spring, this verdan …

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BP-Amoco Environmental Trail

Red-wing Blackbird/Credit: Lee Karney/USFWS

 The BP-Amoco Environmental Trail  (Site #18, Central Loop) is situated  the middle of the extensive agricultural fields that lie just west of Decatur. BP-Amoco has preserved this corner of prime woodland and marsh habitat for waterfowl and possibly ra …

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Buck’s Pocket State Park, Morgan’s Cove, and South Sauty Creek

South Sauty Creek, DGB VRT

The region around Buck’s Pocket State Park, South Sauty Creek, and Morgan’s Cove (Site # 49, Northeast Loop) provides a number of habitats worthy of exploration. The waters of South Sauty Creek are attractive to numerous migratory waterfowl, as well as …

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Cypress Cove Farm

M. Keith Hudson, ADCNR

Cypress Cove Farm shines as an example of a small farm that is being converted from primarily agricultural use, to a site that is being actively managed for wildlife and natural resource education. It is a splendid example of many techniques and practices small rural landowners can use to attract and manage wildlife on their lands. A small spring seeps from under a hill and pools to form a pond containing numerous large, old cypress trees. Existing farm structures have be modified and used as bird blinds and educational facilities.

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Decatur Hospitality Nature Park

Wetlands/Credit: Joe Watts

The Decatur Hospitality Nature Park (Site 17, Central Loop),  nearby US Highway 31 Causeway, and the Decatur Boat Harbor provide a great opportunity to scan the waters of the Tennessee River for winter waterfowl and shorebirds. This area is one of the …

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DeKalb County Public Lake

Canada Geese/Credit: USFWS

DeKalb County Lake (Site #46, Northeast Loop) is a popular fishing spot that also serves as an excellent introduction to northern Alabama’s bird life. Check the open waters of the lake for wintering waterfowl or a family of resident Canada Geese with t …

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DeSoto State Park – Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail


DeSoto State Park ‘s Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail (previous name-Azalea Cascades Trail) (Site #47, Northeast Loop) allows the birder to enjoy both woodland songsters-Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Yellow-throated Vireos and displ …

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Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area Walking Trail

Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area/Credit: ADCNR Photos

The walking trail at Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area (Site #13, Northwest Loop) is one of numerous gravel and dirt hunter access roads on the 34,500 acre WMA, which leads visitors into a variety of productive habitats ranging from old fields to …

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Goose Pond Colony

Male Hooded Merganser, foreground/Credit: Quincey Banks

Goose Pond Colony  (Site # 38, Northeast Loop) is a public recreational development built on a peninsula on the northern side of Guntersville Lake south of Scottsboro. This location makes for some excellent birding, especially during the winter. Stop a …

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Gorham’s Bluff / Coon Gulf

Gorham's Bluff

Gorham’s Bluff (Site #45, Northeast Loop), a planned community, rises on the southern side of Raccoon Creek, a very scenic arm of Guntersville Reservoir.  The Bluff provides an incredible vista of the creek and the surrounding area, as well as exemplif …

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Guntersville Dam North


The north side of Guntersville Dam is similar to the south side and also provides boat access to Painted Bluff a few miles downstream. However, the north side of the dam is usually better for viewing Bald Eagles. Active eagle nests have been seen on the ridge just northeast of the dam and in a small wet area northwest of the dam. Look for adult parents from January through April and for recently fledged juveniles in April and May.

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Guntersville Dam South

Great Blue Heron/Credit: Paul Franklin

Guntersville Dam (Site #36, Northeast Loop) impounds the 67,900-acre Guntersville Reservoir in northeastern Alabama. The Tennessee Valley Authority manages the dam for electricity production and flood control. The dam makes an excellent vantage point t …

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Guntersville Peninsula


Guntersville Peninsula  (Site # 35, Northeast Loop) sits on a peninsula that juts into Guntersville Reservoir. The city has developed walking trails along the shoreline of the peninsula, providing public access to innumerable vantage points to search t …

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Guntersville State Park, Town Creek and Drive


Guntersville State Park is one of the premier birding areas in northeastern Alabama. Renowned for its Eagle Awareness Weekends, the park is best visited in the winter. During this time, look for dense populations of waterfowl, and the chance to spy a vagrant such as a Red-necked Grebe or an unusual gull.

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