Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (NMP) commemorates the battle in 1814 between Colonel Andrew Jackson and the Creek Indian nation. The fields, forests, waterways and trails of Horseshoe Bend NMP offer excellent opportunities to observe birds in a variety of habitats. A paved loop road circles the park, which consists of mixed mature pine-hardwood forest and open field habitat. The park is bordered by the Tallapoosa River.
Walking trails crisscross the property, often paralleling the paved road. The bluffs that overlook the river offer stands of River Birches. The nearby understory features multitudes of bird-attracting American Beautyberry bushes. Birds found in good numbers in spring and summer include Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated and Hooded Warblers, and American Redstarts, Wood Thrushes, Summer Tanagers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Check the flocks of kinglets, Brown Creepers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Yellow-rumped Warblers that join the feeding flocks in the park in the colder months: you should be able to pick out Blue-headed Vireos from the group. Palm Warblers share space with Savannah, Song, and White-throated Sparrows around shrubby edges near the road from October through April. Barn and Rough-winged Swallows are found near the river in the warmer months, particularly near the highway bridges.
Look for shorebirds – sandpipers and plovers – on the sandbars or along the river’s edge, and for waders such as herons and egrets, as well. Wood Ducks are here, though they tend to be somewhat shy and reclusive. The open fields harbor Eastern Kingbirds in the warmer months and Eastern Bluebirds throughout the year. Be watchful for flocks of Wild Turkeys at the edges of the open fields in the early morning and late afternoon.
Mississippi Kites breed in the area. In mid to late summer, concentrations of Mississippi and Swallow-tailed kites can be a spectacular sight over open areas, particularly if a mowing operation flushes large insects into the air. Listen for the declining Northern Bobwhite here, as well as Eastern Meadowlarks.
Raptors at this site are a “who’s who” of birds of prey: Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Broad-winged hawks are met by Mississippi Kites and Cooper’s Hawks, as well as the kites.
Night brings Barred Owls in the bottomlands, Great Horned Owls at the edge of the open fields, and Eastern Screech Owls in the thicker woods. Watch for Ospreys and Bald Eagles along the Tallapoosa. The park is operated by the National Park Service and offers restrooms, picnic tables, and camping facilities.
GPS: 32.9795086 -85.736777
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
National Park Service
11288 Horseshoe Bend Road
Daviston, AL 36256
From US Highway 280 in Dadeville (where a variety of restaurants, service stations, and motels are available) in Tallapoosa County, turn north on US Highway 49 and follow for 12 miles. Turn right at the park entrance.