Living River is a 440 acres wooded point tucked along four miles of the banks of the Cahaba River. Its mosaic of habitats range from riparian woods to rolling grassland.
The entrance road, Living River Parkway, parallels the Cahaba River and provides several opportunities to explore the variety of habitats along the Parkway and the several logging roads that adjoin it – early-emergent second-growth with American Goldfinches, Eastern Bluebirds, towhees, and Field and Chipping Sparrows. From April through October, the area attracts Prairie Warblers, Chats, Gray Catbirds, Common Yellowthroats, White-eyed Vireos, and other scrub birds.
The more mature woods are filled with woodland songbirds. This nears the southern terminus of the Scarlet Tanager’s breeding range, but a few are found here, mostly in mature mixed pine-oak woods. Black-and-white Warblers, Wood Thrushes, and Summer Tanagers are fairly common here in the warmer months, as are Hooded and Kentucky Warblers, and Eastern Wood Pewees. Pileated Woodpeckers are numerous in these wet woods. Wild Turkeys are east to spot in the very early morning and late afternoon.
There is a clearing on the north side of the road with a canoe launch and swimming area. When this is not busy, it is an excellent place to find Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Orchard Orioles, and Northern Parulas from early spring through fall.
Continue on the Parkway to the entrance to Living River. The site is visually appealing, the development’s roads wind through the rolling hills above the Cahaba River. The mix of birds runs the gamut here, and due to the clearing and construction in the area, there is a great mix of habitats; this will probably settle into a mixture of “suburban” birds – Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers, Northern Mockingbirds, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, etc., in the vicinity of buildings and significant activities. Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Wood Thrushes, Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Eastern Wood Pewees, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers and such will likely be found in the areas with less activity and disturbance.
Barred Owls and Red-shouldered Hawks are common here. Listen for Whip-poor-wills (few) and Chuck-will’s widows in the cleared areas. The (presently) open field bordered by the mature woods near the river appears to have potential for American Woodcocks. The best place to spot Eastern Screech-Owls is along the Parkway. Check for Mississippi Kites from April through August; they breed nearby. Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls are permanent breeding residents, as well as Broad-winged Hawks.
Living River is a retreat and conference center recently built by a consortium of Birmingham Presbyterian churches to provide the visitor with an outdoor experience.
Directions: From I-59/20 west of Birmingham, take exit #97 (Woodstock/Green Pond – food and fuel available), and merge onto AL 5 S. In 7.2 miles, turn left (east) on CR 24 and pass through West Blocton. After a total of 7.5 miles on CR 24, bear left at the stop sign onto CR 65, which later becomes Marvel Road. At 6.6 miles, turn left (west) at the signage for Living River onto a gravel road (named Slab Road on some maps, now renamed Living River Parkway) and follow to the entrance for Living River.
Alternatively, coming south on I-65, take Exit #234 (Shelby County Airport) and merge left onto CR-12, until it deadends (1.5 miles). Turn right on CR-12 and proceed for 9.6 until it deadends, the right onto CR-10 for 5.5 miles. At the junction with CR-251, continue on CR-12 for .8 miles to Living River Parkway (formerly Slab Road). Turn right and proceed on the Parkway to the complex.
GPS: 33.1734649 -87.02633449
Living River (Mailing address)
3603 Lorna Ridge Drive
Birmingham, AL 35216