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 Great Egrets. The striking Prothonotary Warblers can be plentiful in the spring when the males are actively singing from every feasible vantage point, in hopes of courting a mate. With numerous dead trees in the area, look for Red-headed and Pileated woodpeckers as they flash their red, white, and black colors in this sea of green.
In early winter mornings, one can hear Great Horned Owls. The swamp can be full of American Coots, rafts of Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks , Gadwall and other dabblers. A short walk up and down the road can produce White-throated Sparrows, Hermit Thrush, Slate-colored Juncos and other winter visitors.
GPS: N 34.5770, W 86.7822
Amenities: Parking, Canoeing
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
The intersection of County Line Road and I-565 west of Huntsville, lies between I-565 exits 5 and 7. Note: There is no interstate exit at the intersection, as here US Highway 72 parallels I-565. County Line Road may be accessed from I-565 exit 7 by traveling west on Highway 72, or from I-565 Exit 5 by traveling east on Highway 72 for a short distance. From the intersection, go south on County Line Road for 5.9 miles. Turn left (east) on Jolly B. Road. To access the west side of Blackwell Swamp, continue on Jolly B. Road 0.6 mile to the Wheeler NWR sign and continue on the refuge access road for another 0.8 mile to a small canoe landing. To access the east side of the swamp, turn left (east) on another refuge access road off Jolly B. Road a few hundred yards before the Wheeler NWR sign. This road will carry you to the north and east sides of the swamp. An eastern viewing and canoe access point is 1.7 miles down this road.
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 (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 …
Monte Sano State Park 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 t …
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 …