Blue Springs State Park is a quiet, 103-acre park featuring a clear blue underground-fed spring. The natural spring has a sandy bottom, pumps 3,600 US gallons of water per minute, and stays at a constant temperature of 68 °F. The spring is now contained in several concrete pools, and swimming is permitted. Some of the best bird habitat in the park is in the thickly wooded area below the swimming pools where the springs returns to its natural channel and flows along a shallow stream bed to its junction with the Pea River, a short distance away.
The 83,000 acres of the Conecuh National Forest house scores of Red-cockaded Woodpecker colonies and hundreds of Bachman’s Sparrows in the pine forests. You’ll find breeding Anhingas, Purple Gallinules, Common Moorhens, King Rails, and Least Bitterns in its wetlands, and Swallow-tailed Kites and Painted Buntings thinly scattered throughout the forest. Packed with breeding birds and a haven for wintering songbirds and waterfowl, the Conecuh deserves to be listed in the highest echelon of birding sites in Alabama.
The Crenshaw County Public Lake is one of the state’s little-known birding jewels with gorgeous pinewood, old field, and deep-water lake habitats. The open, mature pines surrounding the lake are well-suited for Bachman’s Sparrows, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Northern Bobwhites, and Prairie Warblers. The 53-acre lake attracts waterbirds such as Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets, and in late winter, rafts of dabbling ducks may be present. Lush vegetation along the margins of the lake, and the scrubby slope between the road and the woods on the southeast side of the lake are both excellent for birds, and the woods can be extremely productive in all seasons.
Dothan Area Botanical Gardens offers 50 acres of trees, shrubs and flowers in a variety of habitats. Paved paths pass through manicured lawns, a rose garden, open pine woods, mixed hardwoods, and small ponds. The gardens are easy to bird, with excellent access, and very good sight lines in most areas. This is one of the best locations in the immediate Dothan area to see spring and fall migrants, and should attract numbers of wintering songbirds.
A deep-water lake surrounded by Spanish moss–draped woods, this site is a great place to look for songbirds in the surrounding woods and waders in the grassy, marshy inlets. Wetland-loving songbirds are present in the woods, swallows and waders around the lake, and occasionally shorebirds at the small retention pond. The three-mile trail surrounding the lake is well worth a visit for its convenience and the likelihood of finding good birds, especially in migration. The lake is closed Wednesdays, and December and January.
Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best birding to be found in Alabama. The entire refuge is a patchwork of open fields, marshes, and impoundments bounded by Lake Eufaula to one side and mixed woods on the other. Begin your visit with the Wildlife Drive, which winds through pine woods, grassy fields, and marshy areas. Although parts of the Drive are closed in winter, it is good for waterfowl, sparrows, and raptors in winter, and grassland species and some waders in the warm months. The nearby Houston and Kennedy Units, composed of marshes and sloughs and the lake itself, can be accessed by foot or bicycle, and are first-rate for wetland songbirds and waders, including bitterns and waterfowl in winter.
The twin sites along the shores of 500-acre Lake Jackson provide boardwalk access through and above cypress hammocks, palmetto and scrub woods, and dense tangles of wetland and swamp plants. This is a superb site for wetland-loving songbirds, and a reasonably good spot to find wading birds, a few shorebirds, and gulls in winter.
Robert Fowler Memorial Park overlooks the junction of the Choctawhatchee and Pea rivers, and is home to the Constitution Oak, a Live Oak believed to be one of the oldest and largest trees in the state. A compact site that houses a surprising variety of habitats, Fowler Park is the best site in the county for woodland songbirds, grassland species, a few waders, and the possibility of Anhingas, Moorhens, and Purple Gallinules. The park includes a small cypress swamp, a number of enormous Live Oaks, and a long fencerow. Fowler Park is a great site for migrants in spring and fall and should prove a very productive site for wintering species. The park is open every day; admission is free.
Frank Jackson State Park is a 2,050-acre park centered on 1,000-acre Lake Frank Jackson, and offers boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, and picnicking. There are also a number of nature trails and boardwalks providing access to islands and marshy areas which hold substantial promise as for birding. Woodlands bordering the lake are mostly mature mixed hardwoods. Trails give access to songbird areas, while the forest edges attract migrants. Expect to see waterfowl and gulls on the lake in the colder months.
The Geneva County Public Lakes are twin lakes on opposite sides of Geneva County Road 63. The east lake is very attractive and is surrounded by Longleaf Pine woodlands. This is an excellent spot for Bachman’s Sparrows, Ground Doves, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine and Prairie Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Eastern Towhees. The dense, wet tangles to the south could hold surprises, such as Painted Buntings. Look for nesting Mississippi Kites and Anhingas. Some waterfowl winter here.
Geneva State Forest holds more than 7,000 acres of Longleaf Pine forest with a fire-maintained open under-story. The forest’s three sections are in various stages of growth and maturity, offering a variety of birding opportunities. The open understory is home to numerous Bachman’s Sparrows, and Mississippi Kites are fairly common nesting birds, as are Painted Buntings, Common Ground Doves, Anhingas, Common Moorhens, etc. There is a large fishing lake encircled by a dirt road. Overall, this is an excellent destination for pinewoods birds.
Lakepoint Resort State Park is situated on the shoreline of Lake Eufaula, and offers a marina, lodge, golf course, meadows, pine woods, grassy fields, and water treatment lagoons. You can find birds ranging from Eastern Bluebirds and Dark-eyed Juncos to nesting Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and Brown-headed Nuthatches. There are also waders, shorebirds, and wintering waterfowl. Located a short distance from Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, Lakepoint Resort State Park is a great place to stay while exploring this key birding area.