5 Rivers sits on the banks of one of the canals that traverse the Mobile-Tensaw delta. The decks of the Delta Hall and the perimeter trail around the facility provide excellent vantage points to observe birds of the surrounding marsh and waterways. In spring and summer look for Brown Pelican, Osprey, King Rail, Marsh Wren and several species of herons and egrets. Occasionally, Least Bittern and Purple Gallinule may be encountered along the margins of the emergent marsh. Painted Bunting may also be possible in the thickets near the buildings. Check here for migrants in spring and fall.
Dauphin Island Airport is set in a salt water marsh in which may be found Clapper Rail (common), Virginia Rail and Sora are fairly common(fall and winter), though secretive. Yellow Rail is very rare in winter as is Black Rail most of the year. Nelson’s and Sharp-tailed Sparrows may be seen in the grasses on the edge of the marsh. Long-legged waders may be seen feeding in the ponds on either side of the entrance.
Battleship Park presents the birder with a diversity of habitat to explore and a great variety of birds to observe. Pinto Pass and the mudflats of Mobile Bay filled with waterfowl in winter and shorebirds during migration, short grass lawns for dowitchers and Black-bellied Plover, salt water marsh with herons and egrets. During low tide this area is filled with herons, egrets and occasionally ibis, especially in late summer. Black-necked Stilt may be around any time of the year and in summer, Gull-billed Tern is present.
Look for gulls and terns on the pilings in the bay and shorebirds along the shoreline. From the shoreline, walk the boardwalk to an inland marsh. Look closely for Least Bittern and Clapper Rail. During fall and winter, Virginia Rail and Sora are regular, but secretive.
The entire 900-acre complex is a bird sanctuary and there is an observation tower overlooking the Fowl River and salt marsh. Although good year-round, birding potential for neotropical migrants increases during the spring and fall months. Cruises through the waters of the Fowl River aboard the Southern Belle are available March through November.
Depending on water levels and time of year, the first pond on the right (south) often offers the best conditions for viewing waterfowl like Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, and Northern Shoveler, and various shorebirds, gulls and terns. This is also one of the best places to find White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpipers in late spring.
The Mud Lakes on Blakeley Island are well known to Alabama birders as one of the best spots in South Alabama for shorebirds and waterfowl. The Island, at the western end of the Mobile Causeway, along the east side of US 90A, can be reached from either US 90 or I-10.
At the top of the dike, scan the large ponds in various stages of management; you must stay on the perimeter dikes. Best areas usually are in the northwest and southwest corners of the pond. This is a regular site for Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, where they now breed.
Boggy Point Boat Launch, an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources facility, offers a small beach with an excellent view of Robinson Island, a roosting site for herons and egrets, to the east. Robinson Island offers important habitat for sea birds and because of that many areas are basically off limits to humans. Robinson Island is an important nesting area for Wading Herons and Terns. This vantage point provides a viewing site for birders without disturbing the roosting site. This location also gives an alternate view of Perdido Pass.
Bon Secour Bay is found on the eastern edge of Mobile Bay and provides a protected area for wintering waterfowl and seabirds. Scan the bay and the small canal for gulls and tern. Black-crowned Night-herons may be found roosting in the oaks scattered through the area.
The Jeff Friend Trail is a one-mile loop to Little Lagoon. Habitats include maritime forest, freshwater marsh and open water along the north shore of Little Lagoon. A variety of species are possible-waterbirds, raptors, songbirds and other passerines. A small observation deck midway down the trail at Little Lagoon is a great place to set up a spotting scope and scan the water.
Mobile Street is a paved road leading to the beach, with a parking area for the one-mile (each way) Gator Lake Trail, which connects Mobile Street with the Pine Beach Trail. This narrow trail can be good for winter birding where you may see Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Myrtle Warbler. This is also a good vantage point for shorebirds and waders, as well as loons and other seabirds.