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Alabama’s northeastern corner has a wilder, more primitive side than much of the state, with the
Appalachian chain rising in the east. Birds known for their vulnerability to disturbance thrive in this corner of the state, with Cerulean Warblers nesting in remote valleys, Ruffed Grouse drumming from wooded draws, and some incredibly endangered aquatic life hanging on in the Paint Rock River Valley.

This unique landscape is pock-marked with some of the most environmentally important cave systems east of the Mississippi. These caves hold almost all of the hibernating Gray Bats in the world. Visitors are drawn to the caves each summer when hundreds of thousands of these rare mammals can be seen leaving their roosts to start their evening hunt. Although their numbers once declined dramatically, careful management is bringing them back from the brink.

Beneath the towering Cumberland Plateau, Guntersville Lake extends its thin arms up steep valleys, forming even more habitat for winter waterfowl. You may see numerous Bald Eagles, some of which have taken up residence around the lake – due to the assistance from ADCNR. Each year, Guntersville Peninsula, which lies at the heart of the Northeast Loop, provides some exciting rare birds for the state. Previous celebrities have included Glaucous Gull, Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe.

Buck’s Pocket State Park, Morgan’s Cove, and South Sauty Creek

The region around Buck’s Pocket State Park, South Sauty Creek, and Morgan’s Cove (Site # 49, Northeast Loop) provides a number of habitats worthy of exploration. The waters of South Sauty Creek are attractive to numerous migratory waterfowl, as well as …

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DeKalb County Public Lake

DeKalb County Lake (Site #46, Northeast Loop) is a popular fishing spot that also serves as an excellent introduction to northern Alabama’s bird life. Check the open waters of the lake for wintering waterfowl or a family of resident Canada Geese with t …

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DeSoto State Park – Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail

DeSoto State Park ‘s Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail (previous name-Azalea Cascades Trail) (Site #47, Northeast Loop) allows the birder to enjoy both woodland songsters-Kentucky and Hooded Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Yellow-throated Vireos and displ …

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Goose Pond Colony

Goose Pond Colony  (Site # 38, Northeast Loop) is a public recreational development built on a peninsula on the northern side of Guntersville Lake south of Scottsboro. This location makes for some excellent birding, especially during the winter. Stop a …

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Gorham’s Bluff / Coon Gulf

Gorham’s Bluff (Site #45, Northeast Loop), a planned community, rises on the southern side of Raccoon Creek, a very scenic arm of Guntersville Reservoir.  The Bluff provides an incredible vista of the creek and the surrounding area, as well as exemplif …

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Guntersville Dam North

The north side of Guntersville Dam is similar to the south side and also provides boat access to Painted Bluff a few miles downstream. However, the north side of the dam is usually better for viewing Bald Eagles. Active eagle nests have been seen on the ridge just northeast of the dam and in a small wet area northwest of the dam. Look for adult parents from January through April and for recently fledged juveniles in April and May.

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Guntersville Dam South

Guntersville Dam (Site #36, Northeast Loop) impounds the 67,900-acre Guntersville Reservoir in northeastern Alabama. The Tennessee Valley Authority manages the dam for electricity production and flood control. The dam makes an excellent vantage point t …

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Guntersville Peninsula

Guntersville Peninsula  (Site # 35, Northeast Loop) sits on a peninsula that juts into Guntersville Reservoir. The city has developed walking trails along the shoreline of the peninsula, providing public access to innumerable vantage points to search t …

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Guntersville State Park, Town Creek and Drive

Guntersville State Park is one of the premier birding areas in northeastern Alabama. Renowned for its Eagle Awareness Weekends, the park is best visited in the winter. During this time, look for dense populations of waterfowl, and the chance to spy a vagrant such as a Red-necked Grebe or an unusual gull.

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Little River Canyon National Preserve Drive

As you drive along the rim of this incredibly scenic canyon, listen in the open fields for Yellow-breasted Chats and Prairie Warblers. Farther down in the canyon, Yellow-throated Warblers and Red-eyed Vireos can be heard calling from below while Rough-winged Swallows and Chimney Swifts frolic overhead.

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Mud Creek Wildlife Management Area

Mud Creek Wildlife Management Area (Site #42, Northeast Loop) has numerous impoundments that are likely to turn up a great variety of species. Access roads leading into the area also make Mud Creek easy to bird. Check the ponds in fall and winter for d …

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Murphy Hill

Murphy Hill was supposed to be developed as a power plant. Fortunately for both birds and birders, these plans fell through and the area now hosts a huge variety of habitats ripe for exploration. As you walk through open areas, listen for Yellow-breast …

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North Sauty Creek WMA / Sauta Cave NWR

Hibernating Indiana bats/Credit: ADCNR, Keith Hudson

North Sauty Creek (Site #39, Northeast Loop) has an excellent display of waterfowl and wading birds that occupy the area. Park on the roadside and scan the creek for waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds, especially during migration or in the winter. …

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Roy B. Whitaker Paint Rock River Preserve

The Roy B. Whitaker Paint Rock River Preserve (Site # 40, Northeast Loop) was a working farm until Mr. Whitaker, wishing that future generations be able to enjoy the farm he loved so much, sold it to The Nature Conservancy who now manages it for conser …

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Russell Cave National Monument

Russell Cave National Monument has been home to wildlife and man for thousands of years. This peaceful setting combines food, water, and shelter with tranquility and beauty. Following the elevated boardwalks and nature trails can lead to eastern woodla …

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