Sites listed below have been reviewed for accessibility as they relate to birding. This means different things to different people, so consider these suggestions as simply a guide. We did not use ADA guidelines in our review; ADA compliance is a goal that we hope all locations within the birding trails can strive towards, but our guidelines have been developed based on the ability to experience good birding at the intended location while dealing with an accessibility issue. Our primary focus during this round of reviews relates to mobility challenges. You can find additional details about the type of accessibility found at these sites by looking at each location or, for a quicker review of all the locations, you can read about their accessible options here. These details may include specific information about the type of path–but they may also be as simple as explaining that the location can be birded very effectively from your automobile. The amount of information depends on the amount of information that was able to be collected. Check back, as we will continue to update this information!
If you visit one of these sites and have an issue with accessibility, please reach out to us through our contact page and let us know more about it. If you have a site you visit regularly that is not listed below, but is accessible, please let us know about it as well. Our goal is to make these locations more visible, to help more people enjoy the wonders of Alabama’s birds, and to set an example across the country.
There are other sites found along the 8 Alabama Birding Trails that may provide access as good as these, and some of the locations below may provide limited access.
For each location listed below, you’ll find more detailed information just before the map highlighting how the site is rated for accessibility. This may include noting that the location provides good birding from the car (such as views of a waterfront). It may included details about the type of path. Whenever possible, if an individual location has provided details (such as the Birmingham Zoo) about it’s accessibility, we’ve included that information as well.
5 Rivers sits on the banks of one of the canals that traverse the Mobile-Tensaw delta. The decks of the Delta Hall and the perimeter trail around the facility provide excellent vantage points to observe birds of the surrounding marsh and waterways. In spring and summer look for Brown Pelican, Osprey, King Rail, Marsh Wren and several species of herons and egrets. Occasionally, Least Bittern and Purple Gallinule may be encountered along the margins of the emergent marsh. Painted Bunting may also be possible in the thickets near the buildings. Check here for migrants in spring and fall.
Dauphin Island Airport is set in a salt water marsh in which may be found Clapper Rail (common), Virginia Rail and Sora are fairly common(fall and winter), though secretive. Yellow Rail is very rare in winter as is Black Rail most of the year. Nelson’s and Sharp-tailed Sparrows may be seen in the grasses on the edge of the marsh. Long-legged waders may be seen feeding in the ponds on either side of the entrance.
The Alabama Nature Center in Lanark offers 350 acres of forests, fields, streams, wetlands and ponds that are traversed by five miles of boardwalks and trails in three regions: Still Creek Run, Turkey Ridge, and Hilltop Pass. The trails provide easy access to the surrounding woodlands to look for Summer Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Wood Peewees, Wood Thrushes, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. In winter, expect Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets to join the local feeding flocks in the trees, with Hermit Thrushes below.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Carolyn Blount Museum of Fine Art are the two main entities that occupy the 250-acre Blount Cultural Park. Both have lakes and extensive lawns. Birds are not abundant here, but you can find waterfowl and waders on and near the lakes. Swallows can be quite common in spring and summer. Paved roads wind through the park; park off the roadways and bird the foliage on the park borders for songbirds. The wintering and breeding species you will see here are the expected assortment for southeastern suburban parks and yards, but migrants may be around in spring and fall, especially after the passage of a weather system. Be sure to inspect the quiet little corner that is Shakespeare’s Garden, adjacent to the Festival, and watch for Loggerhead Shrikes in all seasons on the edges of the thin woods throughout the park. Two hours should be sufficient for a productive visit.
Aldridge Gardens is a 30-acre former private home, 5 acre lake, gardens, and grounds now owned by the city of Hoover that has been converted to use as a botanical garden. It features an abundance of Snowflake hydrangeas – a selected variation of …
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.
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.
Bloch Park and the adjacent Valley Creek Park occupy a most attractive tract of land between AL-22 in downtown Selma and the banks of the Alabama River. The open areas, especially along the walking trails and bounding a large open field in the center of the park, are good for Eastern Kingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, and Eastern Bluebirds. Check the bridge and creek below for Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, and Eastern Phoebes. Beyond the open field lies Valley Creek Park. The trees host Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos and Northern Parulas in warmer months, and Pine Warblers year-round. Almost any of Alabama’s migrant species can be found here, along with a good mix of breeding and wintering birds.
The Jeff Friend Trail is a one-mile loop to Little Lagoon. Habitats include maritime forest, freshwater marsh and open water along the north shore of Little Lagoon. A variety of species are possible-waterbirds, raptors, songbirds and other passerines. A small observation deck midway down the trail at Little Lagoon is a great place to set up a spotting scope and scan the water.
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
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.
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.
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.
Chilatchee Creek Park is a working campground consisting of mixed mature riparian woods located along the Dannelly Reservoir. You will find many Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated and Pine warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, American Redstarts, Yellow-throated Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Orchard Orioles. You will see Wild Turkeys throughout the park. Bald Eagles nest nearby and are frequently seen in the area. In winter, you may find gulls and waterfowl along the creek.
Coffeeville Lake (Service Park) in Choctaw County deserves a brief visit by anyone planning a visit to Choctaw NWR and/or Bladon Springs State Park. The lakeside woodlands hold impressive numbers of bottomland songbirds, particularly in migration. Eagles and Ospreys nest nearby and are often seen over the lake. Waders often hunt from the lakeshore. Budget a couple hours for a visit in any season.
The sanctuary consists of 164 acres of largely maritime pine forest with several miles of trails. Passerines prefer the oak grove of the old Banding Area to the extreme east end of the Campground Trail and the south boundary of the swamp along the Dune Edge Trail. Swainson’s Warbler is regularly found at the Banding Area and Black-whiskered Vireo may be found there occasionally. In addition, a Painted Redstart was seen here in spring 2011, which accounted for the second state record.
Demopolis’ River Walk is an open, paved, level, handicap-accessible stroll along the river in downtown Demopolis. The pathway is immediately adjacent to the river bank, and there are scattered patches of planted shrubs and small hardwood trees along its course. Expect to see swallows from spring through late summer, waders year-round — though more in late summer and fall, and some gulls and small numbers of waterfowl in winter. The River Walk can be adequately birded in 60 to 90 minutes. Consider the River Walk as a late morning-early afternoon stop on a birding loop that covers the Demopolis area.
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.
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.
Foscue Creek Park has extensive grassy meadows and tallgrass fields from near the entrance road to the roads to the campground areas, bottomland hardwood forest over the picnic areas, and the open waters of Demopolis Lake along the park’s northern boundary. Expect to find sparrows in the cooler months and excellent numbers of songbirds, woodpeckers, waders, and birds of prey throughout the year. The park merits a short half-day visit in all but the hottest months.
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. Come here after Chilatchee Park, spend a couple of hours at Gee’s Bend Park and the Boykin community, then take the historic Gee’s Bend Ferry across the Alabama River and visit Roland Cooper State Park.
Graham Creek Nature Preserve is a 484 acre natural area managed by the City of Foley. In addition to protecting a portion of the Wolf Bay watershed, this preserve also possesses open pine forest with extensive wire grass and pitcher plant bogs. The combination of habitats is attractive to a diversity of bird species including Northern Bobwhite,, Red-tailed Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Yellow-throated Vireo, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak and several species of waders along the creek.
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–the Catoma Loop is far more extensive, encompassing some second-growth, trails, hardwood bottomlands, park-like campgrounds with open understory, bridges over a creek, and bluffs overlooking the Alabama. Expect to find a great variety of birds, including Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Northern Parulas, Redstarts, vast numbers of Indigo Buntings, Summer Tanagers, Orchard Orioles, and Great Crested Flycatchers.
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. Look for Bald Eagles and Ospreys over the water and waders along the shore. Some waterfowl may be present in winter. Allow two to four hours to bird the park and trails.
The 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. In addition to being a preserve for many of the area’s native wildlife, this remnant natural area serves as a lifeline for millions of migratory birds each spring and fall by providing essential food and shelter resources, making the birding potential excellent on any given visit.
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 surrounding woods are pleasant, and the trails through the Natural Area and the other walking trails on the eastern side of the park are more narrow and undulating. The lake attracts waterfowl in winter, and a few waders may be found on the lake’s periphery most of the time. Woodland species abound along the 1-mile Nature Trail loop. To walk the Natural Area and walking trails in their entirety requires a couple hours.
The James D. Martin Wildlife Park offers exceptional facilities for exploring an extensive backwater of Neely Henry Lake, on the Coosa River in the City of Gadsden. In addition to a walking trail along the shoreline, a network of boardwalks allows visitors to walk out into the 300-acre lake, and even to visit wooded islands situated in the lake, providing superb views of the birdlife of this rich and varied ecosystem.
Lagoon Park is a large urban park, with multiple softball fields, a golf course, a wooded fitness trail, and more to our point, several large lagoons ringed by walking trails. The lagoon portion of the park features extensive shallow wetlands that can be spectacular for wading birds, swallows, small rafts of ducks in winter, and for songbirds in the surrounding woods. Bird the trees along the entrance road for migrants in spring and fall. Look for wetland songbirds in the bottomland forest to the west and south of the parking at the end of the road, and walk the trails around the lagoons to see waders, waterfowl, and possible shorebirds. Allow at least two hours for your visit here.
Limestone Park’s interesting combination of wetlands, grasslands, and Tupelo Gum swamp is good for wading birds, swamp and marsh birds, grassland species, and some waterfowl in winter. You will also find songbirds and shorebirds in migration. Best birds are Anhinga (breeds), and Bobolinks, Dickcissels, and Grasshopper Sparrows (late spring). A Roseate Spoonbill is sometimes spotted here in summer. The City of Alabaster has recently added a handicapped-accessible Birding Observation Deck overlooking the wetlands on the North-western side of the park, with adjacent parking for all. Located in a rural industrial area in southern Shelby County, this park preserves a rich remnant of the habitat mosaic that makes this area especially attractive to birds.
The Little River Canyon Center, open since 2009, is a Jacksonville State University building located in Northeast Alabama that adjoins the Little River Canyon National Preserve in the city of Fort Payne, AL. The Canyon Center is a good resource to visi …
Canyon Mouth Park offers visitors one of the few opportunities to access the banks of the Little River by car. This is a good place to experience songbirds in the trees near the river, in the dense understory and woods beyond the picnic areas, and along the narrow path that follows the river upstream into the canyon. Soaring birds of prey are frequently seen in the skies above. Picnic tables, restrooms, and ample parking make this a good stopping place for a midday picnic, either before or after exploring the spectacular canyon rim.
Maplesville City Park offers forty acres of mixed hardwood & pine, with two athletic fields. A paved, 1/3 mile walking trail and several additional unpaved pathways provide opportunities to bird the woodlands, including several creeks that interse …
Minooka Park, located in Jemison, AL, features over 400 acres. Although the park is primarily an off- highway vehicle park there is also an 7 acre lake surrounded by a walking trail and piers. Pavilions and restroom facilities are available. An RV c …
Monte Sano State Park (Site #29, Northeast Loop) sits atop a remnant ridge of the Cumberland Plateau, giving a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys and plateaus that cover northeastern Alabama. These islands in the sky are covered in thick hardwo …
The Montgomery Zoo encompasses 40 acres just off Northern Boulevard (US-231) in the city limits of Montgomery. The zoo’s landscape is largely open, but the periphery of the park incorporates lush planted habitat for native species. Make it a point to bird the lake at the extreme northwestern part of the property. Look for migrants and mid- and understory songbirds in the dense second growth, and for waders and waterfowl around the lake. Brown-headed Nuthatches and Red-headed Woodpeckers are common permanent residents here. The zoo is entirely handicap-accessible. An admission fee is charged, and zoo hours vary by the season.
Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain offers a rich variety of good birding spots. The fishing lakes at the northeast end of the park, especially the woods around the lower fishing lake, can be amazingly productive. Allot a good portion of your time in the park to this area. Peavine Falls Road is also quite good. Concentrate on the picnic area on the ridgeline on the brow of the mountain, and on the trails at the end of the Falls Road.
The Phenix City Riverwalk in Russell County snakes along the banks of the Chattahoochee River for almost 1.25 miles as it traces the Alabama-Georgia state line. Follow the elevated boardwalks and the paved walkways and seize the opportunities to trek down to the river’s edge or to scramble over a boulder field. The woods here – largely mature hardwoods with varying amounts of understory — are rife with riparian-forest songbirds. Look for waders and swallows over the river, with some gulls and the odd tern in winter. As this site requires no less than a 2 1/2 – mile walk, expect to spend a short half-day to cover most if not all of the trail. If pressed for time, spend 1-1 ½ hours birding the southern portion from the entrance near the Ampitheatre to the 13th St bridge and back.
There are several waterfront parks in the vicinity of Tuscaloosa. Rocky Branch is the northernmost in a cluster of parks on Holt Lake. Comprised of steep forested slopes leading to the deep waters, it is best birded for songbirds in spring and fall migration, and for wintering birds in the colder months.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve is a thousand-acre park preserving the wooded slopes of Ruffner Mountain in the heart of Birmingham. In addition to an extensive trail system, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center offers a variety of camps, activities, and programs for visitors of all ages. Excellent birding can be enjoyed in the mixed vegetation around the Nature Center and the covered pavilion. The park never seems crowded or noisy, and the birds are plentiful. This is a great migrant trap in spring and fall. Virtually any perching bird native to north-central Alabama might turn up at Ruffner Mt. on a given day.
Located in Homewood along Lakeshore Parkway, the Shades Creek Greenway (Lakeshore Trail) is a three-mile-long multi-use trail offering a scenic oasis just yards away from busy Lakeshore Parkway. Meandering along the floodplain forest by Shades Creek, t …
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. Because it is well-wooded with relatively quiet human activity, and because there is a large amount of water on the property, the park attracts a variety of birds. Expect to find numerous woodland songbirds in all seasons, with waders present near the lakes, and some waterfowl in winter. A short half day – two hours or so – should be enough for good birding.
Shoal Creek Park consists of 167 acres of largely open lands and wooded margins with Shoal Creek running through the property. Shoal Creek itself tends to have a good flow with riffles and slower moving stretches. Blue Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers and In …
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, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Barred Owls — the primary feature remains the rocks and shallow waters below the dam. Use the observation deck to look for gulls in winter, waders and shorebirds on the rocks, and dabbling ducks in the shallows in the colder months. It should take less than two hours to bird the park. A scope would be helpful, as distances to the birds below the dam are great.
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. There is a good wooded trail from the parking lot along a finger of the lake. The park is good for songbirds, swallows, waterfowl, raptors, and more.
The Bevill Visitors Center grounds feature short-grass lawns with scattered small shade trees. The property is home to numerous bluebirds and various blackbird species. There are numerous songbirds in the trees in and near the parking areas. Look for gulls, eagles, and deep-water ducks in the adjacent Aliceville Lake in winter. The heavily wooded entrance road leading to the visitors center offers outstanding songbirding opportunities throughout the year.
A rarity in the midst of such a vibrant resort city, the 12 acre Wade Ward Park features a pavilion, benches and scenic boardwalks overlooking coastal salt marshes. It offers the birder scenic boardwalks overlooking canals and coastal salt marsh. It features a pavilion, benches and scenic boardwalks.
Weiss Lake, a 30,200 acre impoundment owned and operated by the Alabama Power Company, is fed by the Coosa, Chattooga and Little Rivers, and offers over 447 miles of shoreline and shallow flats, large coves, under-water drop offs and deep channels. The preferred starting point for birding Weiss Lake is the boat launch area on the west side of AL 68 in the middle of the Chattooga Bridge, which spans the main body of the lake. This is a good site for gulls, waterfowl, and eagles in winter; for swallows and riparian songbirds in spring and summer; and waders and some shorebirds in late summer and fall.
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 residen …
Arrowhead Landing (Site # 23, Central Loop) is located on Limestone Bay, another corner of the fertile Wheeler Reservoir and the Tennessee River. There is an outstanding view of the bay and the wooded areas on Beaverdam Peninsula. Watch the open water …
The Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk (Site #25, Central Loop) leads the visitor into the heart of the largest Tupelo Swamp in Alabama. While exploring the boardwalk, watch the canopy for active flocks of Tufted Titmice, Red-eyed Vireos, and warblers. The swa …
Dancy Bottoms ( Site #33, Central Loop) is an excellent area in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to visit during spring migration when dozens of warblers, vireos, tanagers, thrushes, orioles, and grosbeaks fill the trees. The area is also good for …
Yoholo Micco Trail covers some 3.2 miles through grassy meadows, mixed woodlands, past a (hidden) waterfall, across a former railroad bridge skirting the shoreline of Lake Eufaula, then through a residential section of the historic City of Eufaula, before terminating at Old Creek Town Park. This The paved, level trail incorporates most of the habitat types found in the Eufaula area. You can see a broad variety of species along the path, and it is probably the best location in the area to spot migrants in spring and fall. Winter birds are also plentiful. The most interesting species may be the nesting pairs of Bald Eagles and Ospreys.