Lake Harris sits at the end of a long, winding dirt road. The early second-growth habitat along Lake Harris Road is far more productive for birds than is the lake itself. Expect to see bluebirds, Bobwhites, turkeys, towhees, goldfinches, Chats, Prairie Warblers, Yellowthroats, Field and Chipping sparrows, and more. The lake could produce long-legged waders, some shorebirds and swallows, and a few wintering waterfowl.
A large, well-visited park with staff, Lake Lurleen features a huge deep-water lake, extensive parking areas, and picnic areas under massive pines. Look for migrants in the forested areas in spring and fall, hundreds of swallows – mostly Cliff – and easy-to-find songbirds such as Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and (from spring through fall) Northern Parulas, Pine and Yellow-throated warblers, kingbirds, and Orchard Orioles. Look for gulls and waterfowl in winter, and a few waders throughout the year.
Lake Nicol is an attractive, easily accessible, well-maintained, and popular wooded park on a substantial lake. It draws many local visitors, so the best birding is achieved on weekdays, early or late in the day, and days when traffic should be less than peak. Look for pine-woods birds all year, a few waders and shorebirds, migrant songbirds in spring and fall, and a few ducks and geese in winter.
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.
The single best location in Tuscaloosa for songbirds, the arboretum is a “must-see” for birders. Best in spring and fall migration, it is also a valuable resource for wintering birds. Easily accessed and compact enough to cover in less than half a day, this is the spot to find warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, and sparrows on all but the hottest days of summer.