Decatur’s Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is a winter haven for numerous waterfowl species, thousands of Sandhill Cranes, and a small, but increasingly reliable, population of overwintering Whooping Cranes—still one of the world’s most endangered bird species. (There are around 600 individuals alive today, up from an almost-unbelievable low of just 23 in 1941.) As such, it holds a special place in the hearts of Alabama nature lovers, and a priority spot on every southern birder’s bucket list.
The details: Meetup is at 7 a.m. at the Fultondale Chick-fil-A (215 Howell Street), located off I-65 (Exit 267) on Walker Chapel Road. Together, we’ll caravan and carpool up the interstate toward Decatur and the Priceville exit (Exit 334) to reconvene around 8:15 a.m. at a Hardee’s located at 3241 Point Mallard Parkway SE. After a short break, we’ll head from there to the refuge entrance, just a mile or two up the road.
A birding trip to Wheeler can turn into a long day, so remember to bring plenty of water and snacks, a full tank of gas, insect repellent, rain gear, sunblock, and seasonally appropriate—i.e., warmly layered—attire.
(Questions about accessibility? Email us for more information about how we can meet your needs.)
The food: Numerous “sit down” (e.g., Francesco’s Italian Restaurant, Camino Real Mexican Restaurant), “fast casual” (e.g., Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwestern Grill), and just plain “fast” options (the aforementioned Hardee’s) are available a short drive up or down Point Mallard Parkway. There are also several picnic spots if you’d like to bring your own food.
Trip leader: Greg Harber leads this trip; his cell is 205-807-8055 (day of field trip only). For more information, or to RSVP, email the Outreach Director.