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North Alabama Birdwatchers Society


Hi All. For those of you new to us, the North Alabama Birdwatchers Society (NABS) is an informal group that focuses on birding in northern Alabama. We have been around since 1976 and are the only birding group in our area to offer a set of regularly scheduled trips each year. We visit a variety of areas across this part of the state, most of which are included on the North Alabama Birding Trail (NABT; www.northalabamabirdingtrail.com). Each summer, NABS trip leaders get together and come up with a schedule like you see here, which we then post on our website (www.northalbirding.com) and send out by email to our members. NABS is open to everyone, including beginners, and especially young folks with an interest in birds; there are no membership dues. If you show up for an outing, you can consider yourself a member.

Our ultimate goal for any NABS outing is to give everyone an opportunity to observe (and hopefully hear) every bird species we encounter. That seldom happens, but we usually get pretty close. Our rules of etiquette are few but the ones we do have are important:

  1. Be reasonably restrained, as to making noise (no dogs or unruly children);
  2. While cameras are most welcome, please don’t let pic-taking disrupt the birding (see ultimate goal above);
  3. Don’t get out in front of the group (flushing the birds before others can see them is not very nice);
  4. Be reasonably constrained in the use of birdsong apps, pishing, etc. to attract birds, especially breeders;
  5. Above all, follow the guidance of the trip leader.

By birding with NABS, you’ll have the opportunity to go out with experienced people who are familiar with the places we visit and who love to share their knowledge. NABS can also provide greater access to certain areas where it’s restricted, e.g., driving behind locked refuge gates at Wheeler NWR or visiting the privately-owned Jones’ ‘Hawk Farm’.

Although the focus is on birds, NABS outings also offer opportunities to become more generally familiar with many of the beautiful and diverse natural areas characteristic of northern Alabama. The places we’ll visit provide excellent opportunities to observe, study and appreciate a variety of flora and fauna, including wildflowers, trees, insects, reptiles/amphibians and mammals. Some NABS regulars have considerable knowledge of these other groups and would be glad to answer questions and provide information during trips.

Most of our trips are on Saturdays, although we have a few Sunday outings during the spring, when migration is in full swing.             Please note that we’ve decided to change the meeting time for some of our trips: Aug-Oct and late March-May will meet at our usual 7 am, while Nov-early March trips will meet at 8 am. Half-day trips are the norm, although some may include extended birding into the afternoon, for those interested. Please note that, although it’s usually easy to leave early, there are a few trips behind locked gates that involve a 2- to 3-hour time commitment (see Wheeler NWR trip descriptions). Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes, field guides, refreshments, bug repellent and rain gear. We seldom officially cancel trips; if the weather is bad (heavy rain) or dangerous (icy roads, severe storms) enough to warrant cancellation, we will send out an email notice.

If we don’t already have your email address, please consider sending it to us to add to the NABS mailing list. We can then email you this schedule, as well as trip reminders, and a few other items of interest. In addition, a copy of the schedule will appear on the NABS (www.northalbirding.com) website.

Send your comments, questions and suggestions to Rufina or Ken Ward (256-837-5646; phinken@wowway.com).

Below are descriptions of the trips scheduled for this season, with directions, GPS Coordinates (for most of the trips), trip leaders and contact numbers. We have also included some “Events of Interest” for nature lovers. Thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you this season!

April 2019

Wheeler NWR Spring Migration Count (NABT)

April 27 @ 6:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, 2700 Refuge Headquarters Rd.
Decatur, AL 35603 United States
+ Google Map

The format for this count is similar to Christmas Counts – identify and count all birds seen or heard from dawn to late afternoon/dusk; different groups bird different parts of the refuge and nearby areas. Birders of all skill levels are welcome and needed, as we are usually short-handed for migration counts. Arrangements can also be made to spend part of the day counting for those who can’t commit to the whole day (morning or afternoon). We’ll regroup at the…

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Monte Sano State Park (NABT #29)

April 28 @ 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Monte Sano State Park Huntsville, AL United States + Google Map

Join us near migration peak as we bird one of the best spots in the state for spring migration. The Park can be filled with birds this time of year, including an impressive variety of beautiful warblers in breeding plumage, orioles, grosbeaks, both species of tanagers, 4-5 species of vireos, all thrush species we can see in this area, etc. The birds are often relatively easy to see, too; several hotspots near our meeting spot are easy to find, including…

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May 2019

William B. Bankhead National Forest (NABT #14)

May 4 @ 7:00 am - 12:00 pm
William B. Bankhead National Forest, 3713 Alabama 33
Moulton, AL United States
+ Google Map

Bankhead National Forest (BNF) in northwestern Alabama is 180,000 acres of mesic hardwood, mixed pine-hardwood, shortleaf pine, oak-hickory, hemlock-white pine and mountain longleaf pine forest, with many limestone bluffs, swift flowing streams and waterfalls; the 26,000-acre Sipsey Wilderness is also found here. Migration birding this time of year is usually quite productive in BNF and we’ve had some great trips there the past few years. We’ll meet at Site 14 of the North Alabama Birding Trail (Central Firetower). From Huntsville,…

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Indian Creek Greenway

May 5 @ 7:00 am - 10:30 am
Indian Creek Greenway Huntsville/Madison, AL United States + Google Map

The Indian Creek Greenway is a pleasant place to bird, with opportunities to get good looks at migrants. The major reason this trip was planned a few years back was to look for Mourning Warblers. This species is a secretive late spring migrant through this area that is rarely seen. We have had good trips here over the years, e.g., Mourning, Wilson and Canada Warblers, Warbling Vireo, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and a variety of other species.…

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Leighton Area, Town Creek (NABT #4, 5)

May 11 @ 7:00 am - 12:00 pm
Leighton/Town Creek, 1074 Fennel Road AL United States + Google Map

We will explore the Leighton area and Town Creek, targeting shorebird migrants, whose movement through our area should be strong at this time of year. Our success will depend largely on water levels and weather. We’ll meet at the Ingalls Boat Harbor Pavilion in Decatur: from the direction of Huntsville, cross the river bridge and take the first right onto Alt 72/20 (Wilson St.). Go about a mile and turn right on Neher St., follow to pavilion parking lot. –…

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Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (WTARS, NABT #27)

May 12 @ 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station, 372 Walker Lane
Hazel Green, AL United States
+ Google Map

WTARS is Alabama A&M University’s research farm; it is a 970-acre property with lots of open grassland and pasture areas, plus small patches of forest. It is one of the best places in the state to observe open country birds and always makes for a great trip (our most popular). Species we’ll likely encounter include Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (breeding and probably nesting by this time), Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, Lark Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern Kingbird, several swallow species, Bobolink, Horned Lark, Loggerhead…

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