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.
Idle Hour Park sits moments from US-80 in Phenix City. It is a sprawling urban park, the outstanding feature of which is Moon Lake. The path around the lake is broad, flat, and handicap-accessible. The surrounding woods are pleasant, and the trails through the Natural Area and the other walking trails on the eastern side of the park are more narrow and undulating. The lake attracts waterfowl in winter, and a few waders may be found on the lake’s periphery most of the time. Woodland species abound along the 1-mile Nature Trail loop. To walk the Natural Area and walking trails in their entirety requires a couple hours.
Lagoon Park is a large urban park, with multiple softball fields, a golf course, a wooded fitness trail, and more to our point, several large lagoons ringed by walking trails. The lagoon portion of the park features extensive shallow wetlands that can be spectacular for wading birds, swallows, small rafts of ducks in winter, and for songbirds in the surrounding woods. Bird the trees along the entrance road for migrants in spring and fall. Look for wetland songbirds in the bottomland forest to the west and south of the parking at the end of the road, and walk the trails around the lagoons to see waders, waterfowl, and possible shorebirds. Allow at least two hours for your visit here.
Lake Livingston in Sumter County and the system of nearby trails constitute one of southwest Alabama’s most outstanding birding sites. The 54-acre lake attracts waders, swallows (warmer months) and some waterfowl (colder months). The extensive series of trails pass along the lake’s banks, through mature forest, by second-growth and scrub, and eventually through wonderfully restored Black Belt prairie grasslands. This unmatched variety of habitats provides for a long list of birds. There is potential for a series of lengthy hikes here. A half day is a short visit; it would be easy to spend a full day and never get bored.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Old Cahawba, Alabama’s capitol from 1820 to 1826, is a present-day ghost town and archaeological site situated inside an oxbow of the Alabama River. The forest here is primarily all-age bottomland-type hardwoods, with varying degrees of understory density. There are open short-grass fields adjacent to the main (paved) road. The site hosts a good selection of woodland songbirds, from warblers and vireos to Summer Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. There is an abundance of food and shelter here, and a minimal amount of disturbance, so populations of birds are good.
The Old Cahawba Prairie Preserve in Dallas County adjoins the historic Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, site of the state’s first capitol. The 3,000+ acres preserve substantial black-belt prairie habitat, and include native grasslands and pine-plantation forest. The Old Cahawba Prairie abuts the Cahaba River and includes portions of Big Swamp Creek. Expect a mixture of grassland birds, such as sparrows, buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks, second-growth lovers, such as Chats and Prairie Warblers, and pine forest denizens, such as Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers.
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.
One of Alabama’s premier birding sites, Perry Lakes and the State Fish Hatcheries are worth a visit any day of the year. Alot at least a half day to sample the full site: woodland songbirds abound in the hardwood bottomlands at Perry Lakes, while the hatcheries feature a variety of waders, shorebirds, swallows (spring to fall), and even a smattering of ducks and geese in winter. The landscape is flat and the entire acreage can be easily traversed with minimal effort. Do not miss the opportunity to experience the view from the 100-foot-high birding tower, which offers eye-to-eye views of songbirds, as well as excellent views of soaring raptors. The gated recreation area is open at no charge from sunrise to sunset.