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.
Boggy Point Boat Launch, an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources facility, offers a small beach with an excellent view of Robinson Island, a roosting site for herons and egrets, to the east. Robinson Island offers important habitat for sea birds and because of that many areas are basically off limits to humans. Robinson Island is an important nesting area for Wading Herons and Terns. This vantage point provides a viewing site for birders without disturbing the roosting site. This location also gives an alternate view of Perdido Pass.
Bon Secour Bay is found on the eastern edge of Mobile Bay and provides a protected area for wintering waterfowl and seabirds. Scan the bay and the small canal for gulls and tern. Black-crowned Night-herons may be found roosting in the oaks scattered through the area.
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.
Mobile Street is a paved road leading to the beach, with a parking area for the one-mile (each way) Gator Lake Trail, which connects Mobile Street with the Pine Beach Trail. This narrow trail can be good for winter birding where you may see Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Myrtle Warbler. This is also a good vantage point for shorebirds and waders, as well as loons and other seabirds.
At the Pine Beach trailhead stands an interpretive kiosk with trail maps and bird lists. This is a two-mile trail (each way) southeastward to the beach by way of Little Lagoon and Gator Lake. The hike is an enjoyable walk through a variety of habitats including oak mottes, sand pine scrub, fresh and saltwater marshes, dunes and beaches. The Pine Beach Trail will generally have the best birding on the refuge during migration and can also provide excellent winter birding opportunities.
Cliff’s Landing is one of the best spots in Alabama (south of I-65) to view Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites in the spring and summer. Look for kites and other raptors across the river to the west, with best light in the morning.
County Road 95 Park/Arnica Bay is a small public access point maintained by the county. Various species of wintering waterfowl may be seen. Also look for Brown-headed Nuthatch in the surrounding pines.
D’Olive Overlook provides an excellent view of the bay. In winter, check the bay for ducks and pelicans as well as wading birds year around. In addition, Peregrine Falcons are occasionally seen perching on top of the causeway light poles along I-10.
Fairhope Municipal Pier and Beach are good places to check for all manner of water-loving birds-gulls, terns, shorebirds and wintering waterfowl.
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.
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.