Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge protects the largest stand of mature Longleaf Pines north of the state’s coastal plain. Home to the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow, the Refuge is also known for its abundance of Brown-headed Nuthatches, and large coveys of Wild Turkeys. The mountain ridge is great for spring and fall migrants, and an excellent hawk-watching spot in fall.
Neely Henry Dam on the Coosa River offers great opportunities to observe a variety of water-loving birds. Winter brings gulls (mostly Ring-billed, some Bonaparte’s and Herring, rarely Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed, etc.) and a few Forster’s Terns, primarily over the deep waters above the dam. Colonies of Barn Swallows and Cliff Swallows build their mud nests on the dam structure, and activity is intense from late March to September. This is also a peak time to observe large numbers of wading birds.
Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain offers a rich variety of good birding spots. The fishing lakes at the northeast end of the park, especially the woods around the lower fishing lake, can be amazingly productive. Allot a good portion of your time in the park to this area. Peavine Falls Road is also quite good. Concentrate on the picnic area on the ridgeline on the brow of the mountain, and on the trails at the end of the Falls Road.
Palisades Park is an outstanding birding destination throughout the year. Its altitude – the highest point for miles in any direction – makes it a good place to see migrant songbirds in spring and fall. Sitting atop a rocky ridge, it overlooks Oneonta …
Porter’s Gap is an access point to the Pinhoti Trail, a ridge-line trail linking Alabama and Georgia . The trailhead area provides high elevations for viewing unusual breeding birds nearing the southern end of their range (Scarlet Tanagers, Black-throated Green Warblers, and Ovenbirds), as well as for migrant songbirds in spring and fall. A north-easterly walk along the Pinhoti Trail eventually takes the visitor to a riparian habitat where Northern Parula Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Yellow-throated Warblers breed.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve is a thousand-acre park preserving the wooded slopes of Ruffner Mountain in the heart of Birmingham. In addition to an extensive trail system, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center offers a variety of camps, activities, and programs for visitors of all ages. Excellent birding can be enjoyed in the mixed vegetation around the Nature Center and the covered pavilion. The park never seems crowded or noisy, and the birds are plentiful. This is a great migrant trap in spring and fall. Virtually any perching bird native to north-central Alabama might turn up at Ruffner Mt. on a given day.
The Ruffner Mountain Wetlands are a series of small marshes and ponds, traversed by a boardwalk and trail, located on the other side of the mountain from the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. This new wetland area provides visitors to the steep, hilly terrain of the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve a chance to look for birds in an entirely different type of habitat.
Located in Homewood along Lakeshore Parkway, the Shades Creek Greenway (Lakeshore Trail) is a three-mile-long multi-use trail offering a scenic oasis just yards away from busy Lakeshore Parkway. Meandering along the floodplain forest by Shades Creek, t …
The Talladega Mountains Natural Resource Center (a partnership between Jacksonville State University, the Cleburne County Commission and the Talladega National Forest) opened in November, 2012. The Mountain Center houses the JSU Field Schools and acts …
A large park with varying, all-age, pine-oak woodlands. Water ranges from babbling brook to rushing streams. Tannehill can be a fine spot for song-birding at all times except the middle of summer. Often very busy and noisy on weekends in the warm months; can be very serene on weekdays. Look for woodland songbirds and migrants here. A great spot for Louisiana Waterthrushes and Brown-headed Nuthatches.
Ten Islands Historical Park, on the shores of Neely Henry Lake just above the dam, offers first-rate birding. Though the park itself is small, there is a vast amount of excellent habitat here – the entrance road provides shoreline access to deep water, pullout areas to check grassy edges and early second-growth pines. There is a good wooded trail from the parking lot along a finger of the lake. The park is good for songbirds, swallows, waterfowl, raptors, and more.
Abundant water and vegetation define Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. An excellent site for songbirds and raptors, the preserve is worth a visit in all times of the year, except for weekends during the summer, when it is likely to be crowded. The park teems with flycatchers, warblers, vireos, tanagers, and more. Watch for mixed-species feeding flocks in winter.