The Anniston Museum occupies landscaped grounds surrounded by a mature pine-oak hilltop forest. The woodland component coupled with the elevation makes the site well-suited for a role as a spring and fall migrant trap. Woodland songbirds and woodpeckers are present throughout the year, and the added attraction of the Museum’s outstanding exhibits make this a site worthy of inclusion on any visitor’s itinerary. The Museum serves as a Gateway site for the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, and is a good place to get help with your questions about the trail. Be sure to spend some time birding the pond in Jaycees Park at the base of the hill, just off Highway 21.
One of the best and most-visited sites for songbirds in the Birmingham area, particularly in spring and fall migration. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens should be high on the “must-see” list for anyone interested in birding in the Birmingham area. Concentrate on the more-natural northern end of the park, especially the Bog Gardens, the Kaul Wildflower Garden, the Fern Glade, and the paved trail loop that begins between the Wildflower Garden and the Fern Glade. The southern portion of the Alabama Woodlands trail and the Garden for Southern Living can also be rewarding.
Located within the 200 wooded acres of Lane Park, the Birmingham Zoo is one of Alabama’s most-visited tourist locations, as well as being a surprisingly productive place for year-round birding. The best birding on the grounds exists outside the Zoo itself – in and around the overflow parking areas and in the picnic grounds, where you may find most of the state’s woodpeckers, as well as Eastern Towhees, Brown Thrashers, Grey Catbirds, Carolina Wrens, and a seasonal array of sparrows in the dense understory. This is a good place to bird in conjunction with a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens across the street.
Bull’s Gap is a ridgetop trailhead on the Pinhoti Trail in the Talladega National Forest. This makes it an excellent site for migrants in spring and fall, as well as for some notable breeding birds. Look for breeding Scarlet Tanagers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Ovenbirds, Worm-eating Warblers, and Black-and-white Warblers. This is an excellent spot for Brown-headed Nuthatches, as well as for Pileated and Hairy Woodpeckers. The ridgeline offers a good vantage point for observing soaring birds. From mid-September through early November, this area is a good hawk-watching site.
This property is an outstanding example of short-grass habitat. There is no better place in the region to find grass sparrows (including Grasshopper in the warm months), and the fields are patrolled by Northern Harriers in the colder months. This is a prime location for Loggerhead Shrikes and American Kestrels. This is an exceptional place for Eastern Meadowlarks – their songs and calls ring out from the fields in every direction
Mount Cheaha is Alabama’s highest point, and it is one of the southernmost locations to find a number of the state’s more interesting breeding birds, such as Blue-headed Vireos, Cedar Waxwings, and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Additionally, Cheaha State Park is located in the middle of the Talladega National Forest.
The Doug Ghee trail, an easy, level, ¼-mile long, handicap-accessible boardwalk, begins just beyond the historic Bald Rock Lodge in the heart of Cheaha State Park. The visitor should expect to see a wide range of woodland songbirds, most of the state’s woodpeckers (notably Pileated and Hairy), some migrants in season, and feeding flocks of wintering birds from October through March. The end of the boardwalk offers a sensational 180-degree view to the north, and is a superior hawk-watching spot from the highest point in the state.
The boulder fields at Cherokee Rock Village stand sentinel along an east-facing ridge and overlook Weiss Lake far below. This is an extraordinary location to find Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, and Great Crested Flycatchers, and is without doubt the best site for observing soaring raptors in the state. Sample the birds in the old fields and second-growth habitats along the entrance road.
One of the most significant birding sites in Alabama, Coleman Lake is at present the only reliable location in the state for Red Crossbills, and boasts roadside looks at endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. This is a good location for Bachman’s Sparrows. It is also a great spot for viewing migrant and breeding songbirds and is excellent for spring and fall wildflowers, as well.
East Lake Park is one of the best places in the Birmingham area to see birds, because it has a variety of natural features that provide food, water and shelter for a wide range of species. Using water from Roebuck Springs and Village Creek, this 45-acre lake is sheltered from the surrounding urban area by a 100-acre park. The mature hardwoods are home to many resident songbirds, as well as winter feeding flocks led by Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, as well as the usual winter finches.