To enter Moundville State Archaeological Park is to turn the clock back several centuries. The pace is slow; the park itself is very, very quiet. The overall sense is that the several large, tall mounds rise from an extensive open field. The open field also features a few substantial marshes – at least two, with the presence or absence of others dependent on weather conditions.
Mound Parkway is a loop road circling the open areas and providing access to the mounds, museum, and park offices. At the head of the circle, scan the nearby marsh for Red-winged Blackbirds (all year), possible Rusty Blackbirds (winter), shorebirds (migration and possibly winter), and waders (primarily spring through fall). The open fields often have flocks of ground-feeding songbirds present – Robins, bluebirds, grackles, Cowbirds, and even flickers — mostly in migration and winter. Bluebirds and Eastern Phoebes (all year) and Eastern Kingbirds (April through September) hawk insects from around the fields and marshes. A few Mississippi Kites soar over the fields in late spring and summer, and Red-tailed Hawks are common all year.
To the south are picnic and parking areas, all shaded by scattered mature trees, mostly hardwoods, such as water oaks and hackberries. These woods offer great sight lines and should be explored during migratory periods. Otherwise, the woods here boast a reasonable representation of local breeding species: Red-eyed and Yellow-throated vireos, Summer Tanagers, Orchard Orioles, Eastern Wood Pewees, and Great Crested Flycatchers.
The bird life around the mounds is sparse — phoebes, bluebirds, Carolina Wrens, and mockingbirds. But the dense hardwood areas toward the north and northwest borders of the park have considerable bird activity, with Indigo Buntings, White-eyed Vireos, Catbirds, Field Sparrows, and similar birds here. The mid- and upper-stories have good numbers of woodpeckers, including Pileated. The north and western borders are the other spots that should be thoroughly investigated in migration, and also in winter, when feeding flocks congregate here. Expect to see large numbers of Cedar Waxwings from late November through May.
GPS: 33.00613 -87.6358999
Moundville Archaeological Park
13075 Moundville Archaeological Park
Moundville, AL 35474-6413
Amenities: Parking, Restrooms, camping, picnic, trail, food, gift store
Hours: Park hours: 9A.M.-dusk; Museum hours: 9A.M.-5 P.M.
Fee: Adults $8, Seniors $7, Students and Children $6, under 5 free, Native Americans (with tribal membership card) free
From I-59/20 in Tuscaloosa, take exit 71B onto AL 69 S. A full slate of visitor services is available near the exit and Highway 69. Follow AL 69 for 12.5 miles and turn right (east) onto Mound Parkway at the signage for Moundville State Archaeological Park.