Central Loop, North Alabama | Madison | Best Seasons: Fall | Spring
Monte Sano State Park (Site #29, Northeast Loop) sits atop a remnant ridge of the Cumberland Plateau, giving a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys and plateaus that cover northeastern Alabama. These islands in the sky are covered in thick hardwood forest, which is home to a number of neotropical migrants. As you explore the trails in the park, look and listen for Indigo Buntings, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Red-eyed Vireos. During migration, these can be augmented with species that nest farther north. The Overlook is an excellent site for the fall flight of southbound raptors and a great sunrise view. Resident Turkey Vultures and other raptors can be seen gliding past at eye level, soaring on warm air currents rising from the valley below.
GPS: N 34.7470, W 86.5104
Amenities: Parking, Restrooms, Handicap Access, Picnic Area, Viewing Area, Hiking
Monte Sano St. Park
5105 Nolen Avenue
Huntsville, AL 35801
The paved parking lot at the overlook on Monte Sano is very accessible and one of the most popular locations for area birders (and the birds they are looking for) in the park. The top of the mountain is a well documented migrant trap in spring each year and offers excellent views of raptors as they move south each fall. Well worth a visit!
In Huntsville from the intersection of I-565 and US Highway 431/231 (Memorial Parkway), take Highway 431 south for 4.5 miles. Turn left on Monte Sano Boulevard, and travel 2.6 miles to Nolen Avenue. Turn right on Nolen Avenue and stay on Nolen until you enter the park. Follow the state park signs to the Scenic Overlook.
Amenities Available: Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Wheelchair Accessible
Hays Nature Preserve
The Hays Nature Preserve (Site #30, Central Loop) hosts several miles of paved trails that follow the Flint River and its associated oxbow lakes through low riparian habitat, old fields, and a golf course. There are a total of 10 miles of trails th …
Madison County Public Lake
Madison County Public Lake (Site # 28, Central Loop) is best known for its fishing, but it also serves as an excellent introduction to northern Alabama’s birdlife. Scan the lake for wintering waterfowl or perhaps a family of resident Canada Geese and …
Wheeler NWR – Blackwell Swamp
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge’s Blackwell Swamp’s flooded woodland and marsh (Site # 26, Central Loop) can be explored by car, on foot, or by canoe. This extensive area hosts a variety of wetland species including Great Blue and Green herons and …
Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station
Alabama A&M’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station (Site #27, Central Loop) consists of 900 acres of grasslands and agricultural fields, providing a rare area of open country filled with native birds. Bird the area by making frequent sto …