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.
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.
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.
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.
Fort Morgan is a classic migrant trap, and a birding paradise when adverse weather during spring migration may cause spectacular “fallouts” of colorful migrants. Many vagrant species find their way to this favorite birding spot, which can equal Dauphin Island in excitement. In fall, hundreds of migrating hawks can be seen moving west over the Fort. Winter produces many waterbirds and sparrows. Summer is the slowest season, but can be good for terns. There are restrooms at the ferry landing and at the museum, plus a snack bar at the ferry landing. Bird checklists are available at the museum.
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 …
Haines Island Park’s entrance is located in a pine dominated forest atop the Buhrstone Questa (an escarpment that rises more than 350 feet above the surrounding area and extends from Mississippi across western Alabama); park at the playground and picni …
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.
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). The handicapped-accessible Birding Observation Deck overlooks 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 small but rich remnant of the habitat mosaic that makes this area especially attractive to birds.
One of Alabama’s premier birding sites, Perry Lakes and the State Fish Hatcheries are worth a visit any day of the year. Alot at least a half day to sample the full site: woodland songbirds abound in the hardwood bottomlands at Perry Lakes, while the hatcheries feature a variety of waders, shorebirds, swallows (spring to fall), and even a smattering of ducks and geese in winter. The landscape is flat and the entire acreage can be easily traversed with minimal effort. Do not miss the opportunity to experience the view from the 100-foot-high birding tower, which offers eye-to-eye views of songbirds, as well as excellent views of soaring raptors. The gated recreation area is open at no charge from sunrise to sunset.
The Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest contains the state’s largest population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. The birds nest and forage exclusively in stands of open, mature pines, where they are easiest to find early and late in the day. The best season is spring, when adult birds are near their nests much of the day. Bachman’s Sparrows are found in the same or similar habitat, and numerous songbirds are found here, both in the pine forest and in nearby tracts of hardwoods. This is an extremely productive area – well worth a special trip.
The Ruffner Mountain Wetlands are a series of small marshes and ponds, traversed by a boardwalk and trail, located on the other side of the mountain from the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. This wetland area provides visitors to the steep, hilly terrain of the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve a chance to look for birds in an entirely different type of habitat.
Gray Kingbird is possible at the Shelby Lake Picnic Grounds during the summer months and large numbers of transient Black Terns are often observed flying along the Lake Shelby’s edge in late summer.
Explore the trails through the mounds, which are ancient Indian shell middens. The ancient live oaks provide the insects and cover that neotropical migrants depend on at their first landfall. It is not unusual to see 20 species of warblers here on a good day. Check the information box at the north side of the mounds for recent bird sightings and a bird card for the island.
The West End of Dauphin Island is a birder’s paradise, particularly for shorebirds and other waterbirds. Least Tern, Snowy and Wilson’s Plover use the area close to the parking lot as nesting habitat. Large numbers of gulls, terns, shorebirds and waders fill the sand flats at low tide. Occasionally, a Peregrine Falcon will swoop in for a meal and loons and bay ducks may be seen floating in the Sound.
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 …
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 swamp usually rings with the songs of frogs, insects, and numerous birds including Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
White Springs Dike (Site #20, Central Loop) on Wheeler NWR is one of the premier birding sites of the Tennessee River Valley in Alabama. The dike runs between a de-watering area on the north side and the Tennessee River on the south. Intrepid birders c …