Lake Livingston is a 54-acre lake on the campus of the University of West Alabama in Livingston. It is worth visiting by itself for its scenic beauty, but even more so for the year-round complement of herons and egrets, the warm weather’s swallows and hummingbirds, and the winter’s waterfowl. Look for Common Nighthawks over the lights at the adjacent athletic complex from early April through mid-September. If you have the opportunity to be at the trail head at dawn or dusk, look and listen for Chuck-will’s-widows at the edge of the woods in the warm months, and for Barred Owls year-round. You’ll have more luck asking locals about it if you call it Lake LU, pronounced Lake “El-Yoo.”
Near the base of the foot bridge over the stream, pause to walk the trail through the dense second-growth to the right (northeast). Look for a multitude of sparrows, wrens, and Common Yellowthroats in winter. You will see Chats and White-eyed Vireos in the warmer months. Search the second-growth hardwoods above for songbirds. Return to the bridge and cross. You may see Louisiana Waterthrushes in the warm months, and Barn Swallows and Eastern Phoebes often nest under the bridge. Look for Ospreys over the lake, and a variety of soaring hawks can be seen from here. Cooper’s Hawks nest here and can be seen year-round.
At the far end of the bridge, there are options: the Lakeside Trail (2.5 miles), the Forest Trail (0.5 mile), or the Prairie Trail (1 mile). All are lengthy, have their strong attributes, and deserve exploration. The Lakeside Trail proceeds left (south) along the banks of the lake itself. The trees to the right (west) are tall pines. Expect to see plenty of Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers, with Yellow-throated Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireos, and American Redstarts in spring and summer. There is a good-sized grove of sumacs bordering the trail; when they are in fruit from late summer through winter, they attract birds of many species. Watch for all the brown thrushes in their season and American Robins and Cedar Waxwings beginning in late November. You will find American Goldfinches – scarce in the warm months, common in the cool ones. Look into the vegetation along the banks of the lake to the left for either or both night-herons, Green Herons, or even a stray Least Bittern.
The Forest Trail travels under a dense canopy of mature mixed hardwoods and pines. This trail presents a general variety of woodland species. Canopy birds are easily heard along the trail, but can be somewhat difficult to see, especially from spring through fall. Of the major trails, this is the one with the least variety of available habitats.
The trail that distinguishes this site from all others in the region is the Prairie Trail. The route follows a broad trail at first, one bordered by all-age mixed forest to the left and second-growth scrub to the right. This is an enormously productive path, boasting large numbers of Indigo Buntings, Field Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Eastern Wood-Pewees and more. There is tremendous birding here. In about a half-mile, there is a left turn. The acreage here is restored and preserved Black Belt prairie. Grassland species abound here; there are breeding Lark Sparrows, Field Sparrows, Dickcissels, and (occasionally) Painted Buntings along the trails. Mississippi Kites are fairly common breeding birds, too; look for them in scattered shade trees.
Please allow sufficient time to work this site in its entirety. A typical visit should last a long half day. Better yet, visit in the morning, go into Livingston for lunch, and come back for more birding in the afternoon. Anything less than four hours here means you’ve missed something! This is an absolutely outstanding site.
GPS: 32.602958 -88.189811
UWA Station 30
Livingston, AL 35470
From I-20/59 in Sumter County, take exit 17 (Livingston) and bear southeast on AL-28. In 1.7 miles turn right on N Washington Street. In .8 miles, turn right again on University Drive. In .5 miles, turn right at the sign for the lake and trails. Tartt Field is ahead on the left and the paved road ends at the parking area for the lake and trails.