Appalachian Highlands | Jefferson | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring | Summer | Winter
East Lake Park is one of the best places in the Birmingham area to see birds, because it has a variety of natural features that provide food, water and shelter for a wide range of species. Using water from Roebuck Springs and Village Creek, this 45-acre lake is sheltered from the surrounding urban area by a 100-acre park. The mature hardwoods are home to many resident songbirds, as well as winter feeding flocks led by Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, as well as the usual winter finches. The same woods may also be worth checking for migrant songbirds in spring and fall. The woods sometimes offer shelter to nesting Barn Owls, which may be seen occasionally in the midnight hours, coursing over the short-grass fields to the northwest in search of rodents.
The lake is a reliable spot for waterfowl from late November through February, with occasional rarities seen outside that peak season. An island in the middle of the lake provides nest sites for a small rookery of herons, including Great Blue Herons and Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons. The island can be viewed from the shore, but an interesting view is also available from the pavilion located in the middle of the lake, reached by a short boardwalk from the south side of the lake. The lake is a good spot for Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasbacks, and Ruddy Ducks most winters, while other ducks and waterfowl are irregular visitors. You can see Wood Ducks, which nest here, throughout the year, as well as American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes. Rarities seen here include Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, Tundra Swan, and Ross’ Goose.
Follow the walking trail, which circles the lake, and survey the creek as it departs from the lake. This area is good for spotting songbirds and sparrows, and may attract wading herons and egrets.
From time to time, most of the eastern birds of prey can be seen at East Lake Park, from American Kestrels and Peregrine Falcons to Ospreys and Sharp-shinned Hawks. The most common raptors are Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks. The trees around and near the lake host Eastern Phoebes and Eastern Bluebirds all year, while Eastern Kingbirds and Great Crested Flycatchers can be found April through September.
GPS: 33.57149 -86.72582
East Lake Park
2400 1st Av. N
Birmingham, AL 35206
Amenities: Parking. restrooms (Shepherd Center), trail, picnic, fishing
The trail around the lake is paved and level and creates a nice, accessible 1.1 mile loop. Birds are easily viewed from the wide walkway, but you can also access a wooden plank pier to venture closer to the small island that houses Black-crowned Night-herons.
From I-59 in Birmingham (Jefferson County), take exit 132 (1st Avenue North) and proceed east on 1st Avenue to 84th Street. Turn left (north) on 84th Street to reach the park. Ample restaurants, service stations, and lodging are available in the vicinity.
Amenities Available: Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Wheelchair Accessible
Aldridge Gardens is a 30-acre former private home, 5 acre lake, gardens, and grounds now owned by the city of Hoover that has been converted to use as a botanical garden. The best time for serious birding attention here is during migration.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
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. Co …
Located within the 200 wooded acres of Lane Park, the Birmingham Zoo is one of Alabama’s most-visited tourist locations, as well as being a surprisingly productive place for year-round birding. The best birding on the grounds exists outside the Zoo i …
Five Mile Creek Greenway Brookside
The Five Mile Creek Greenway, as it passes through the small historic community of Brookside, provides access to the banks Five Mile Creek for about 3 miles. The Greenway trail begins at the end of the Bensko Park parking lot and winds along via a wi …
Lake Purdy is a 990-acre reservoir on the Little Cahaba River which provides drinking water for the City of Birmingham. Surrounded by protected woodlands, the lake and its environs have become one of those rare birding destinations that is always int …
Moss Rock Preserve
Moss Rock Preserve is a 349 acre nature preserve owned by the City of Hoover. The preserve includes gigantic boulders, waterfalls, rare plant glades and about 10 miles of trails.