The fall foliage can be amazing! The Alabama Birding Trails highlight the best public locations for watching birds year-round. Find sites by location or by season. Discover “secret” locations from experienced birders. Learn what birds are being reported in real-time. With 270 sites covering our great state from the mountains to the gulf, it is time to get out and explore!
Alabama provides critical habitat for hundreds of bird species, from the Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker to the now flourishing Bald Eagle. From Whooping Cranes to Painted Buntings, you’ll be amazed at what you can see. Here are just a few of the sites. In addition to seeing some amazing birds, if you get outside during Alabama’s fall season, you are sure to enjoy some of our spectacular fall color.
Idle Hour Park sits moments from US-80 in Phenix City. It is a sprawling urban park, the outstanding feature of which is Moon Lake. The path around the lake is broad, flat, and handicap-accessible. The walking trails to the east of the Natural Area wind along under a canopy of mature trees, mixed hardwoods, and some pines. This may prove to be the best location in the park to spot migrants, as the thin mid-story and open understory allow good sightlines into the rich canopy.
Ten Islands Historical Park, on the shores of Neely Henry Lake just above the dam, offers first-rate birding. Though the park itself is small, there is a vast amount of excellent habitat here – the entrance road provides shoreline access to deep water, pullout areas to check grassy edges and early second-growth pines.
Famed for the free-flowing Cahaba River and for the rare wildflowers found here, the Cahaba River NWR is an extraordinarily good birding destination. Expect abundant riparian songbirds – Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Northern Parulas, Prothonotary and Yellow-throated warblers, and American Redstarts – from early spring through fall.
Holy Ground Battlefield Park is a small Army Corps day-use area in northern Lowndes County. Trails proceed from an interpretive kiosk along and through mixed woodlands to views of Woodruff Lake and Cypress Creek. You will see a good variety of songbirds on all but the hottest days of summer.
Prairie Creek Campground is an Army Corps facility that sits along the Alabama River in northern Lowndes County. The entrance road features grassy meadows, while most of the accessible areas of the campground are forested in mature hardwoods hung with Spanish moss.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system was developed cooperatively by the City of Orange Beach and Gulf State Park (Alabama State Parks Division) to provide non-consumptive recreational opportunities through one of the last remaining intact maritime forests along coastal Alabama.
Kymulga Grist Mill was built around 1860 for grinding both wheat and corn. The covered bridge, spanning Talladega Creek, was built the same year, The park is primarily a wooded area, with walking trails through the woods and along the creek. Protected from disturbance for more than 70 years, over twenty-five varieties of hardwood trees live here, and they turn beautiful shades during each autumn.
Little River Canyon National Preserve and Scenic Drive. As you drive along the rim of this incredibly scenic canyon, listen in the open fields for Yellow-breasted Chats and Prairie Warblers. Farther down in the canyon, Yellow-throated Warblers and Red-eyed Vireos can be heard calling from below while Rough-winged Swallows and Chimney Swifts frolic overhead.
Sherling Lake Park is only 3 miles west of Greenville, the largest town in Butler County. It is just 5 minutes from I-65 and can be reached by state highways from the interstate. It exists primarily for its 41 campsites, two fishing lakes, and tent camping opportunities.
DeSoto State Park ‘s Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail allows the birder to enjoy both woodland songsters-Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Yellow-throated Vireos and displays of native wildflowers and blooming shrubs. The boardwalk is 360 yards long through wooded slopes and moist forest floor.
Tannehill State Historic Park–large park with varying, all-age, pine-oak woodlands. Water ranges from babbling brook to rushing streams. Tannehill can be a fine spot for song-birding at all times except the middle of summer. Often very busy and noisy on weekends in the warm months; can be very serene on weekdays. http://alabamabirdingtrails.com/sites/tannehill-state-historical-park/
Tuskegee National Forest is the nation’s smallest in the national forest system. At 11,252 acres, it is small enough to survey in a day, yet large enough to contain a remarkable variety of habitats.
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge’s (NWR’s) showpiece Visitor Center (Site #16, Central Loop) serves as the gateway to the North Alabama Birding Trail. The Visitor Center hosts a series of interpretive exhibits that explain the refuge’s numerous residents, the ecology of these organisms, as well as information on the early human residents of the Tennessee River Valley.
Spillway Falls Park is a significant location for shorebird-watching in the Demopolis area. The site is notable for a broad spillway and extensive shoals and shallows below the lock and dam. Although the mixed woods boast a good variety of songbirds and woodpeckers – and numerous Wild Turkeys.
Backbone Boat Launch sits on the banks of a creek which flows into Lake Demopolis and across from a flooded cypress slough. This small site may be easily birded in less than an hour. Prothonotary Warblers, Redstarts, Northern Parulas, and Yellow-throated Warblers are conspicuous; watch for Anhingas, Purple Gallinules, and Common Moorhens. To really experience all that the site offers, bring a canoe, kayak or other boat.
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.
The tiny Wilcox County community of Gee’s Bend will provide an entertaining and educational visit. World-famous for its museum-quality quilts, it also provides habitat to good numbers of bottomland woodland birds, including vast numbers of Turkeys and Bobwhites. The real treat here is to take the ferry. Enjoy extraordinary scenery while floating along the Alabama River.
Gunter Hill Park and Campground lies just 15 minutes and a world away from downtown Montgomery. Paved roads lead through mature woods of pine and moss-draped hardwoods to the banks Catoma Creek, a backwater of the Alabama River. There are two loops here, the Antioch and Catoma loops.
Alabama’s Birding Trails are a collaborative project of the Alabama Tourism Department, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development.