Tuskegee City Lake is a delight—a pleasant medium-sized lake located just off a major thoroughfare.Used by locals primarily as a picnic destination and for bank and small-boat fishing, you’ll find lots of swallows and flycatchers and some waterfowl and gulls in winter. There are waders year-round, but they’re most prevalent in summer and fall. Allow a few minutes to simply scan the entire site from near the (abandoned) HQ building, a couple of hours to take the lake loop and bird the site in earnest.
Roland Cooper State Park is a lovely, wooded lakeside park in rural Wilcox County, which gained a measure of fame as one of the state’s first Bald Eagle nesting sites as the species began its comeback. Eagles are still present much of the year. The park is also home to many Wild Turkeys, Pileated Woodpeckers, and numerous species associated with bottomland woods and lakes. After a two-hour visit to Roland Cooper, take the scenic ferry ride across the River to visit Gee’s Bend, and then Chilatchee Park 15 minutes up the road.
A particularly attractive Dallas County site for woodland and riparian songbirds. Home to waders in late summer and fall, as well as a smattering of ducks in winter. Paul M Grist State Park is a convenient and easily reached site well-worthy of a half-day’s visit. The extensive hiking trail around the lake is worth the trip by itself.
Live Oak Cemetery in Selma is a stunning image of the old south with row upon row of massive live oaks draped in Spanish moss. The oaks hold good numbers of breeding birds – from Red-shouldered and Cooper’s hawks to warblers, vireos, Summer Tanagers, and various flycatchers. Winter brings many sparrows to the open understory, and mixed-species feeding flocks of songbirds. A visit here shouldn’t require more than a couple of hours.
Shell Creek Park and East Bank Park are twin sites that straddle the Dannelly Reservoir along the Alabama River in Wilcox County. Shell Creek is best noted for a large, active Osprey nest and substantial early second-growth woods along the entrance road. East Bank Park is better for waders and waterfowl, and the southwest corner harbors nesting Least Bitterns. The parks are compact, and neither requires more than 90 minutes to survey. Include these sites as stops along a loop that should include Chilatchee Creek, Gee’s Bend, and Roland Cooper State Park.
A 40-acre park in downtown Montgomery, Oak Park is a lovely place to pass a few hours in search of birds. A paved loop road that winds through the park provides ample parking. The park is transected by numerous paved trails, several of which are handicap-accessible. The park is primarily forested by mature hardwoods – many live oaks – with an open understory. Oak Park is most productive for songbirds, and is at its best on spring and fall mornings when migrants can be numerous. Most of the low cover available for ground-dwelling birds is in the shrubby borders along the roadway. These areas are most productive in the colder months. Breeding birds are a typical mix of urban parks and suburban southern backyards.
Holy Ground Battlefield Park is a small Army Corps day-use area in northern Lowndes County. Trails proceed from an interpretive kiosk along and through mixed woodlands to views of Woodruff Lake and Cypress Creek. You will see a good variety of songbirds on all but the hottest days of summer. Look for Bald Eagles and Ospreys over the water and waders along the shore. Some waterfowl may be present in winter. Allow two to four hours to bird the park and trails.
Spillway Falls Park is a significant location for shorebird-watching in the Demopolis area. The site is notable for a broad spillway and extensive shoals and shallows below the lock and dam. Although the mixed woods boast a good variety of songbirds and woodpeckers – and numerous Wild Turkeys, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Barred Owls — the primary feature remains the rocks and shallow waters below the dam. Use the observation deck to look for gulls in winter, waders and shorebirds on the rocks, and dabbling ducks in the shallows in the colder months. It should take less than two hours to bird the park. A scope would be helpful, as distances to the birds below the dam are great.
Foscue Creek Park has extensive grassy meadows and tallgrass fields from near the entrance road to the roads to the campground areas, bottomland hardwood forest over the picnic areas, and the open waters of Demopolis Lake along the park’s northern boundary. Expect to find sparrows in the cooler months and excellent numbers of songbirds, woodpeckers, waders, and birds of prey throughout the year. The park merits a short half-day visit in all but the hottest months.
Off the Porch with Judy and Don Self During a recent Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Blue-headed vireos, loggerhead shrikes, and hermit thrushes were plentiful, but we had to work for greater yellowlegs and fox and white-crowned sparrows. Bald eagles …
The Montgomery Zoo encompasses 40 acres just off Northern Boulevard (US-231) in the city limits of Montgomery. The zoo’s landscape is largely open, but the periphery of the park incorporates lush planted habitat for native species. Make it a point to bird the lake at the extreme northwestern part of the property. Look for migrants and mid- and understory songbirds in the dense second growth, and for waders and waterfowl around the lake. Brown-headed Nuthatches and Red-headed Woodpeckers are common permanent residents here. The zoo is entirely handicap-accessible. An admission fee is charged, and zoo hours vary by the season.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Carolyn Blount Museum of Fine Art are the two main entities that occupy the 250-acre Blount Cultural Park. Both have lakes and extensive lawns. Birds are not abundant here, but you can find waterfowl and waders on and near the lakes. Swallows can be quite common in spring and summer. Paved roads wind through the park; park off the roadways and bird the foliage on the park borders for songbirds. The wintering and breeding species you will see here are the expected assortment for southeastern suburban parks and yards, but migrants may be around in spring and fall, especially after the passage of a weather system. Be sure to inspect the quiet little corner that is Shakespeare’s Garden, adjacent to the Festival, and watch for Loggerhead Shrikes in all seasons on the edges of the thin woods throughout the park. Two hours should be sufficient for a productive visit.