Black Belt | Macon | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring | Summer | Winter
Lake Tuskegee is a delight—a pleasant 92-acre lake located a block south of US-80 in the southeastern section of Tuskegee in Macon County. The lake is used by locals primarily as a picnic destination, as well as for bank and small-boat fishing.
You’ll find interesting birds here, and they’re easy to spot due to the layout of the lake and the open, parklike nature of the surrounding property. Expect to find lots of swallows, flycatchers and some waterfowl and gulls in winter. There are waders year-round, but they’re most prevalent in summer and fall. Begin on the lake bank near the (defunct) docks and abandoned cinder block building at the intersection of Macon and Marina drives. There are often Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes, and Barn and Cliff swallows. Orchard Orioles and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers generally nest in or near the Catalpa tree at the Marina Drive end of the former marina building. Scan the shoreline from here for long-legged waders; various herons and egrets are present throughout the year. In the cooler months, check for Winter Wrens and Swamp Sparrows by the old docks. Winter brings a few rafts of ducks to the lake, and gulls and the odd tern or two may also be present from late fall through early spring.
Take the opportunity to loop the lake by following the local roads. The southern end of the lake (along Lakeshore Drive) has a few wooded pull-offs, mostly forested in mature loblolly pines and Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches are common permanent residents. Yellow-throated Warblers and Northern Parulas are sure bets from late March through September. Walk to the denser vegetation along the shoreline in these “mini-parks” to look for Common Yellowthroats, Swamp (fall through spring) and Song Sparrows, and hope for Lincoln’s or LeConte’s Sparrows, as well. Pay attention to the small marsh at the extreme southern end of the lake. This is a good spot to see Red-shouldered Hawks, Barred Owls, wading birds, and wetland-loving songbirds, including American Redstarts and Prothonotary Warblers.
Continue around the lake and pause to view the small portion of the lake to the southwest of East Oak Street. You’ll notice a recently established, growing colony of Tree Swallows and in most years a fair number of Purple Martins.
This is an easy and pleasant stop and a perfect addition to a visit to the Tuskegee National Forest. Allot a few minutes to scan the entire site from near the vacant headquarters building, a couple of hours to take the lake loop and bird the site in earnest.
GPS: N 32.429256 W -85.6786
Tuskegee, AL 36083
334-727-6619 or 334-720-0555
From the intersection of US-80 and US-29 in Tuskegee (Macon County–food, fuel, and lodging available in town), follow US-80 east for .8 miles; turn right at Macon Drive to approach the lake. A succession of roads: Macon Drive, Lakeshore Drive, W. Lakeshore Drive, Vaughn Street, Prestwood Circle, E. Oak Street, and Marina Drive, circle the lake.
Tuskegee National Forest
Tuskegee National Forest is the nation’s smallest in the national forest system. At 11,252 acres, it is small enough to survey in a day, yet large enough to contain a remarkable variety of habitats. Much of the land is in various stages of early to l …