This site overlooks the Cahaba River and incorporates a small lake. The area is an excellent location for migrant songbirds, and an great selection of local breeding species. The property boasts an unusually high density of Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
One of several similar recreation areas along the Black Warrior, Lock 5 is a small park with ample parking, restrooms, a picnic area, boat ramp, and mixed-age hardwood and pine woodlands. The site is good for spring and fall migrants, breeding songbirds – many Prothonotary Warblers and Parulas. The broad walking trail that parallels the river affords very good sight lines.
A level .4 mile stroll from a small parking lot, the mounds are at the end of a path bounded by open-row crop fields to the east and south, and wooded streams to the east and north. Birds at the mound site are decidedly suburban (cardinals, mockingbirds, Blue Jays, Carolina Wrens) and those found during migration (Summer Tanagers, cuckoos, Catbirds, White-eyed Vireos, Indigo Buntings) are more interesting. This park makes for a pleasant walk and a good partner site to a visit to the public lake 5 minutes away. Look for soaring hawks over the fields, and sparrows, pipits, and perhaps Horned Larks in the fields in winter.
A pleasant way to spend a few hours, the lake is moderate in size, with open, tall pines along its borders. There is considerable dense second-growth bordering the entrance road and all around the margins of the property. This is a good place to find swallows and pine-woods birds, and there is also good dense second-growth for under- and mid-story dwelling birds. Kingfishers, swallows (including Tree), Parulas, and Pine and Yellow-throated warblers are common here. You will see Indigo Buntings; Wood Thrushes; Hooded, Kentucky, and Black-and-white warblers; Summer Tanagers; cuckoos; and several flycatchers and woodpeckers. The lake is closed in December and January.
The park’s many large Mississipian-era American Indian mounds dot a large open field with multiple marshes. Red-winged Blackbirds, a few herons, and the occasional shorebird may be seen here. The west side of the park abuts the Black Warrior River. In the parking and picnic areas are scattered mature trees, and the north side of the park is bordered by a dense stand of hardwoods. A good mix of songbirds, woodpeckers, and raptors may be found at the park, making this a fruitful site for three seasons.
There are two sections to this recreation area. To the south is a more park-like development with a camping area and a few picnic tables. The northern section is a parking lot overlooking the river and a boat ramp. A general mix of woodland songbirds are found here, most notably many Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parulas (both sections), and Louisiana Waterthrushes (southern portion). Consider combining this stop with the nearby Eutaw Airport for field and pinewoods birds.
Vastly similar to other such parks along the Black Warrior River, Lock 8 offers deep river, mixed woods along the banks, a picnic shed, and a boat ramp. Good for Northern Parulas and Prothonotary and Yellow-throated warblers. You will find woodland migrants in the thicker woods, and look for Swainson’s Warblers in swamps near the entrance. Vultures and sometimes eagles roost in pines on the riverbank.
Payne Lake is a productive site for woodland and riparian birds in all but the dead of summer. Open, mature trees near the lake are excellent for riparian songbirds. The pinewoods slopes along the road to the north have Bobwhites and turkeys. Look for Bald Eagles around the lake, and Swainson’s Warblers, Acadian Flycatchers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and cuckoos along the nature trail to the extreme north.
This is an extensive recreation area that stretches from a picnic area and small boardwalk to a campground complex 2.5 miles down the road. Visitors can follow the road a few more miles to reach the west side of the Bevill Lock and Dam. You’ll find many different habitat types here: early second-growth, open park-like pine-oak woodlands, riverbanks, and the lock and dam. The numerous habitats attract a great variety of birds, and some very interesting ones, too, such as Anhingas and Wood Thrushes.
The Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest contains the state’s largest population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. The birds nest and forage exclusively in stands of open, mature pines, where they are easiest to find early and late in the day. The best season is spring, when adult birds are near their nests much of the day. Bachman’s Sparrows are found in the same or similar habitat, and numerous songbirds are found here, both in the pine forest and in nearby tracts of hardwoods. This is an extremely productive area – well worth a special trip.
There are several waterfront parks in the vicinity of Tuscaloosa. Rocky Branch is the northernmost in a cluster of parks on Holt Lake. Comprised of steep forested slopes leading to the deep waters, it is best birded for songbirds in spring and fall migration, and for wintering birds in the colder months.
Runaway Branch Park has two segments – called RP I and RP II – that bound the same body of water from the east and west. Expect the water to draw spring and fall migrants and riparian-type breeding birds. Look for both kites and Wood Storks in summer, and waterfowl in winter.