Alabama, with its rich tapestry of forests, mountains, meadows, and beaches, is a dream destination for bird enthusiasts. As winter approaches, the state becomes a haven for a myriad of bird species, offering a birding experience that’s both diverse and captivating.
Let’s embark on a journey through some of Alabama’s most renowned birding sites.
The Year of Alabama Birding
Alabama, a state rich in biodiversity, is home to an impressive 430 bird species. In recognition of this avian abundance, the Alabama Tourism Department proudly introduces the “Year of Alabama Birding” campaign. This year-long festivity invites bird aficionados and enthusiasts to converge upon the state, offering them an unparalleled opportunity to witness and engage with Alabama’s diverse birdlife.
From the regal bald eagle to the rare red-cockaded woodpecker and the vibrant painted bunting, visitors are set for a treat. As they traverse the state’s extensive birding trails—eight in total—and explore over 280 dedicated birding sites, they’ll be captivated by the sights and sounds of these winged wonders. These sites span the scenic diversity of Alabama, from the rolling foothills of the Appalachians to the pristine, white sands of the Gulf Coast.
As the celebration progresses, a plethora of promotional activities awaits eager birders. At any of the state’s eight official welcome centers, visitors can unwind and attune their ears to the serene “Relax with Birdsong” recordings. Additionally, the “Sounds of Happy” playlist, available online and on select streaming platforms, promises auditory delight. The interactive “Find Your Flock” online quiz offers a fun twist, pairing participants with the bird species they most resonate with and guiding them to locations where they can spot their avian counterparts. The “Follow a Birder” feature provides a documentary-style insight into the world of birding, as experienced by local experts. Moreover, enthusiasts are encouraged to share their birding snapshots, contributing to the state’s vibrant online birding community. All these engaging initiatives have been thoughtfully crafted by the Intermark Group, the official agency of the Alabama Tourism Department.
Here are 10 birding sites that every enthusiast must visit:
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Located at 12295 Alabama 180, Gulf Shores, this refuge is a sanctuary for migratory birds. “Bon Secour” translates to “Safe Harbor,” truly representing its essence. The refuge is home to the endangered Alabama beach mouse, and during winter, birders can spot coastal birds like the Snowy Plover and Least Tern.
DeKalb County Public Fishing Lake
Situated at 720 County Road 194, Henagar, this site offers a serene environment for birdwatching. The lake and its surrounding areas provide a habitat for various waterfowl and woodland birds, making it a must-visit for bird enthusiasts.
DeSoto State Park and Lodge/DeSoto Falls
Located at 7104 DeSoto Pkwy. NE, Fort Payne, this state park boasts a diverse ecosystem. From waterfalls to dense forests, the park is a haven for various bird species, including high-altitude birds and migratory species.
Ed Lisenby Public Lake, Walking & Birding Trail, Sam Dale Park and Ozark Community Archery Range
Found at 861 Myrtle Dr., Ozark, this site offers a combination of water bodies and trails. The diverse environment attracts a range of bird species, from waterfowls to songbirds.
Foscue Creek Park
Located at 1800 Lock and Dam Road, Demopolis, this park is a hotspot for birdwatching. The combination of water and greenery provides a habitat for various bird species, making it a favorite among birders.
Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area
Situated at 4200 White Pike, Cherokee, this wildlife management area offers a pristine environment for birdwatching. The vast open spaces and woodlands attract a variety of bird species, both resident and migratory.
Geneva County Public Fishing Lake
Located at 2308 County Road 63, Coffee Springs, this fishing lake is not just for anglers. The serene environment and water body attract a range of waterfowls and other bird species, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Graham Creek Nature Preserve
Situated at 23030 Wolf Bay Drive, Foley, this nature preserve is a haven for various bird species. The preserve’s diverse habitats, from wetlands to woodlands, ensure a rich birding experience.
Guntersville Lake and Dam
Located at U.S. 431, Guntersville, this site offers a mix of water and greenery. The lake attracts a variety of waterfowls, while the surrounding areas are home to many woodland birds.
Historic Blakeley State Park
Situated at 34745 AL Hwy. 225, Spanish Fort, this state park is rich in history and biodiversity. The park’s diverse habitats, from marshlands to forests, make it a prime location for birdwatching.
Each of these sites offers a unique birding experience, catering to both seasoned birders and those new to the hobby. Whether you’re looking to spot a specific species or just enjoy the tranquility of nature, these birding sites in Alabama promise an unforgettable experience.
Strategic Stays: Accommodations Near Alabama’s Prime Birding Sites
For those embarking on a birdwatching journey across Alabama’s prime locations, ensuring a comfortable stay is paramount. If you’re exploring the coastal wonders of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, consider accommodations in the vibrant city of Gulf Shores. For enthusiasts heading to DeKalb County Public Fishing Lake or DeSoto State Park, the nearby city of Fort Payne offers a range of lodging options. Ozark is the go-to city for stays when visiting the Ed Lisenby Public Lake, while Demopolis is conveniently close to Foscue Creek Park. If Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area is on your list, the town of Cherokee has welcoming accommodations. The City of Geneva is ideal for those visiting Geneva County Public Fishing Lake, and for birders heading to Graham Creek Nature Preserve, the city of Foley is a perfect base. Guntersville offers a scenic backdrop for those exploring Guntersville Lake and Dam, and finally, for history and birding enthusiasts visiting Historic Blakeley State Park, the city of Spanish Fort provides a mix of history and modern comforts.
Bird Tales: Stories from the Trails
Beyond the act of spotting and identifying birds, birding is about connecting with nature and fellow enthusiasts. Alabama’s birding community is vibrant, with many sharing tales of their unique discoveries, close encounters, and the sheer joy of being in nature. These shared experiences weave a tapestry of stories that enrich the birding journey.
Alabama, with its diverse landscapes and rich avian biodiversity, offers a birding experience like no other. The state’s commitment to conservation and its welcoming birding community make it a must-visit destination for birders of all levels. Whether you’re hoping to spot a rare species or simply immerse yourself in nature, Alabama’s birding sites promise memories that will last a lifetime. So, grab your binoculars, pack your field guide, and set out on an avian adventure in the heart of the South.