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State of Alabama

Flicker
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus ©Glenn Bartley Website

Birding Alabama

From it's northern rolling Appalachian foothills southward to its glistening white Gulf Coast beaches, Alabama attracts both birds and birdwatchers alike. With more than 1,600 square miles of freshwater tributaries and approximately 34,000 square miles of forested land, Alabama offers an abundance of water and plant life. The state provides residence, both temporary and permanent, for about 350 bird species and also serves as a prime migration route for hundreds of species each year.

The Tennessee Valley region, with it's large bodies of inland water formed by the Tennessee River and its impoundments, serves as a wintering ground for tens of thousands of ducks and geese. More than 50,000 ducks of various species and 30,000 Canada Geese winter in Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, east of Decatur in Morgan County. Birdwatchers have recorded seeing at least eighty-seven bird species nesting in the refuge in summer months.

Alabama's heavily forested mountain region offers several prime locations for viewing birds. DeSoto State Park, near Fort Payne in Dekalb County, provides excellent viewing of many woodland species, including Pileated Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, and a variety of warblers.

Within the confines of the lush hemlock and spruce forests of the William B Bankhead National Forest, in southern Lawrence and Winston Counties, you can see Blue Jays, thrushes, vireos, hawks, owls, and other woodland birds.

Alabama's Piedmont and upper coastal regions serve as the transition from the state's mountains region to its grasslands. Taking a road trip through Greene and Sumter Counties in western Alabama will give you the opportunity to see grassland birds, including Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, and several species of sparrow. Wood Storks, Mississippi Kites and Swallow-tailed Kites are frequent visitors to this area during the summer months as well.

Birdwatchers will find Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge, in the lower coastal plain in Choctaw County, a treasure-trove. At last recording, sixty-seven species have been seen nesting within the refuge boundaries.

Another birding hotspot in the lower coastal plain is Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, in Barbour County, which borders the Chattahoochee River and extends into western Georgia. With almost 50 percent of its 11,000 acres covered with water, this refuge has become a favourite stopover for migrating waterfowl and, occasionally, Bald Eagles. Birdwatchers have recorded seeing more than 240 species at this refuge. A favourite winter visitor is the Sandhill Crane.

Alabama's Gulf Coast region, in Baldwin and Mobile Counties, attracts such a wealth of bird life that it boggles the mind. The mixed habitat of thick hardwood and cypress forests coupled with brackish wetlands and an extensive coastline provide excellent opportunities to see a large variety of birds. At least 126 species have been known to nest and 289 species have been seen on the dunes, beaches, pine-oak forests, and brackish lakes of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, near Gulf Shores off Alabama 180.

Dauphin Island, also in the Gulf Coast region, has been listed by many major birdwatching publications as one of the top ten spots in the United States to see migratory birds. On any given spring or fall day when the weather conditions are right, this 14-mile-long barrier can become inundated with birds. When this happens in early spring, it's called a fall out, something every birder longs to see. Neotropical migrants that have flown non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico use Dauphin Island as a refuelling stop before making their way north to their breeding grounds. The birds arrive tired and hungry, making them easy to approach. You can often see as many as ten species in a single tree - a birdwatcher's and photographer's dream come true.

(The above is an excerpt from the book: All About Alabama Birds by Fred J. Alsop III, Sweet Water Press, 1997)

For more information on birdwatching in Alabama, contact the Alabama Ornithological Society (See website for details)

The Alabama Rare Bird Alert hotline can be called at (205) 987-2730. For further information on state parks in Alabama, call 205/661-2220.

Contributor

Suzanne & Michael Owens

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 446

As at July 2017

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Guide to the Birds of the Southeastern States: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi

by John H Rappole | Florida University Presses | 2006 | Paperback | 336 pages, 420 colour photos, 379 dist maps |

ISBN: 0813028612

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Alabama Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide

by Bill Thompson III | Cool Springs Press | 2004 | Paperback |

ISBN: 1591860997

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Alabama Birds: An Introduction to Familiar Species

by James Kavanagh | Waterford Press | 2001 | Unbound |

ISBN: 1583551301

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birder's Guide to Alabama

John F Porter | Alabama University Press | 2001 | Spiralbound | 368 Pages + 75 B&W Illustrations & 50 Maps |

ISBN: 0817310525

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birder's Guide to Alabama and Mississippi

Ray Vaughan | Rowman & Littlefield | 1994 | Paperback | 232 Pages |

ISBN: 0884150550

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Alabama Field Guide

by Stan Tekiela | Adventurekeen | 2006 | Paperback | 350 Pages + Colour Photos |

ISBN: 1591931517

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

State Bird

Yellowhammer [Northern Flicker] Colaptes auratus

Organisations

Alabama Bird Records Committee

Webpage

The Alabama Bird Records Committee (ABRC) is the arm of AOS that reviews species sightings for admission to the official state records list, in order to assure the credibility and scientific value of the records.

Alabama Ornithological Society

Website

The Alabama Ornithological Society (AOS) was founded in 1952 to foster a greater knowledge of birds and to promote conservation of all natural resources. The purpose of this site is to share information about birds and birding in Alabama, and to promote conservation of bird habitat.

Alabama Wildbird Conservation Association

Website

Devoted to Helping Birds from the Backyard to the Boondocks…

Audubon Society in Alabama

Website

Searchable list

Birmingham Audubon Society

Website

Founded in 1946, Birmingham Audubon is Alabama’s leading non-profit organization engaging people in the enjoyment and conservation of birds, their habitats, and the natural world. A certified chapter of the National Audubon Society serving central Alabama (Jefferson, Shelby, Bibb, Blount, Chilton, St. Clair, and Walker Counties), we incorporated as a state non-profit corporation on November 22, 1974, and were granted 501(c)3 status as a charitable non-profit organization in 1976.

Coastal Birding Association

Website

Coastal Birding Association is located on the Alabama Gulf Coast. We have field trips throughout the year and promote comraderie among wild bird enthusiasts, the preservation of bird habitat and conservation of wildlife. If you are interested in the natural wonders of the Alabama Gulf Coast, please join us on one of our field trips!

Cullman Audubon

Website

Meetings, contacts and newsletters…

Francis M Weston Audubon Society

Website

Our purpose is to promote the understanding and preservation of wildlife and the environment that supports it. Our goals are preserving, protecting, and restoring wildlife habitat. Our main activities are advocacy, education, and volunteer projects.

Hummingbird Research, Inc.

Website

Fred began researching winter hummingbirds in the southeastern United States in 1997 with a primary focus on south Alabama and Florida. From 1998 to 2008, Fred banded 1,598 wintering hummingbirds of ten species in those two states. His ground-breaking research was documented in "Wintering hummingbirds in Alabama and Florida: species diversity, sex and age ratios, and site fidelity," a scientific paper coauthored with Doreen Cubie and published in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of Field Ornithology, a peer-reviewed publication

Mobile Bay Audubon Society

Website

The Mobile Bay Audubon Society, founded in 1971, is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. Our mission is to promote the conservation of Earth`s biological diversity by encouraging an appreciation of birds and other wildlife, along with an understanding of the ecological requirements necessary to their survival…

Nature Conservancy in Alabama

Webpage

Welcome to the home page of the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy! Here you'll find information on the many ways we're working with the people of the state and the nation to help preserve the diversity of living things by protecting the habitats - land, water, and air - in which they live…

North Alabama Birdwatcher's Society

Website

The North Alabama Birdwatchers Society (NABS) is truly a birding group for everyone, from beginners to experts. We will visit a variety of beautiful areas across northern Alabama , most of which are included on the North Alabama Birding Trail (NABT). By birding with NABS you'll have the opportunity to go out with experienced people who are familiar with the areas we visit and who love to share their knowledge. NABS also provides greater access to certain natural areas where birding by car is restricted to groups…

Shoals Audubon Society

Website

The Shoals Audubon Society serves The Shoals area of northwest Alabama with active members in Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, and Russelville. Our membership extends to Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, and Lawrence counties of Alabama as well as Lawrence county, Tennessee…

Tennessee Valley Audubon Society

Facebook Page

Welcome to TVAS! We're the local Audubon Society serving the Limestone, Madison, and Morgan county area of North Alabama, including Huntsville, Decatur, Madison, and Athens.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

Alabama Birding Trails

Website

With 270 sites covering Alabama from the mountains to the gulf, the Alabama Birding Trails provide a roadmap of the best public lands to watch the birds. Over 430 different bird species have been spotted in Alabama. Come see what you can find! Get out and explore!

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

Website

Satellite View

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail (ACBT) describes the birding spots most frequented by Alabama birders. This trail was developed during the late 1990s and officially opened soon afterward to offer bird enthusiasts an opportunity to view and enjoy a high diversity of bird species representative of Alabama’s Gulf Coast and to promote birding through tourism in the region.

Alabama's Parks

Webpage

28 State Parks • 4 State Forests • 1 State Fish Hatchery 2 State Nurserys • 7 State Wildlife Management Areas • 1 State Wildlife Refuge 1 State Fish Hatchery • 4 National Forests • 1 National Historic Landmark 2 National Historic Sites • 1 National Historic Park • 10 National Wildlife Refuges

Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island

Webpage

Satellite View

Although first colonized in the 1600s, it was not until 1954 that a 3 1/2mile bridge was built connecting Dauphin Island to the mainland. During this development phase, the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board was created to provide recreation opportunities for the citizens of Alabama…

Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries

Information

Satellite View

Dauphin Island , Alabama is one of the top birding spots in the Southeast. An incredible 347 species have been reported on the island. Spring migration is the first landfall for many Neotropical birds who make the 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula. Under adverse weather conditions, large flocks of exhausted birds of many species may seek shelter on the Island in a truly spectacular 'fall-out'.

NF William B Bankhead

Information

Satellite View

Within the forest lies the Sipsey Wilderness, with a host of wildlife and an abundance of swift streams, limestone bluffs, and waterfalls.

NWA Little River

Webpage

Satellite View

Little River is unique because it flows for most of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. Forested uplands, waterfalls, canyon rims and bluffs, pools, boulders, and sandstone cliffs.

NWR Bon Secour

Webpage

Satellite View

With over 360 different species of birds documented on the refuge, Bon Secour is a birder's paradise. Spring and fall bring an array of color with spectacular migratory bird populations traveling between their breeding and wintering grounds.

NWR Cahaba River

Webpage

Satellite View

Cahaba River NWR is one of nation's newest National Wildlife Refuges, the 540th in fact. It was established September 25, 2002 for the purpose of protecting and managing a unique section of the Cahaba River and land adjacent to it. Cahaba River NWR is home to five federally listed species including the Cahaba shiner, goldline darter, round rocksnail, and cylindrical lioplax snail.

NWR Choctaw

Webpage

Satellite View

Although what is now Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge was once part of the territory belonging to the Choctaw Nation of Indians, there is little left today to remind us of this Indian history except for the names of local streams…

NWR Eufaula

Webpage

Satellite View

he Chattahoochee River valley historically provided thousands of acres of seasonal wetlands. These wetlands were inundated by winter floods, slowly dried throughout the growing season, and were again flooded the following winter. As the flooded areas dried in the spring, they were colonized by plants. Many of these plants produced seed that became food for migrating waterfowl in the winter. Because the river rarely floods, the refuge uses a system of pumps and other water control structures to mimic the historic conditions, and provide a valuable resource to wintering birds.

NWR Fern Cave

Webpage

Satellite View

Here at Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge, there is a unique array of residents living in the cave, in addition to the endangered bats. One survey expedition by a biologist and geologist documented cave fish (Typhlichthys subterraneous), bluegill (Lepomis machrochirus), yellow bullhead catfish (Ictalurus natalis), cave salamanders (Eurycea lucifuga), northern slimy salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus), honey-colored crickets (Othoptera: Euhadonecus), mosquitoes (Diptera: Clulicidae), crane flies (Tipulidae), heliomyzid flies (Diptera: Heliomyzidae), frogs (Anura), and white millipedes (Diplopoda). Above ground, white-tailed deer, turkeys, migratory songbirds, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and rabbits abound.

NWR Key Cave

Webpage

Satellite View

The Refuge consists of rolling grassland, upland hardwoods, and crop land. Past farming practices have led to severe soil erosion problems. Initial management efforts were focused on controlling erosion, thus enhancing the water quality entering the underground cave system to benefit the endangered species inhabiting Key Cave.

NWR Mountain Longleaf

Webpage

Satellite View

Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge is situated within the Southern Appalachian Mountain Range between Atlanta, Georgia (90 miles) and Birmingham, Alabama. The refuge is situated along the rugged landscape of Choccolocco Mountain, one of the highest mountain ridges in Alabama. High elevation vistas (2063 feet ASL) provide an array of beautiful fall colors and breathtaking views of the surrounding region. Hardwood forests along mountain ridges contain species typical of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north, while slopes and lower elevations are covered by longleaf pine and hardwoods commonly associated with the Coastal Plain.

NWR Sauta Cave

Webpage

Satellite View

NWR Watercress Darter

Webpage

Satellite View

The watercress darter is a small, very colorful fish measuring up to 2.5 inches in length. The fish is currently found in only five sites in the upper Black Warrior River drainage near Birmingham, Alabama. They are found only at mid-depths in dense accumulations of aquatic vegetation including watercress, in springs and spring runs.

NWR Wheeler

Webpage

Satellite View

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge provides excellent habitat for many species of native wildlife. A total of 300 species of birds, 47 species of mammals, 75 species of reptiles and amphibians, 115 species of fish, 38 species of freshwater mussels, and 26 species of freshwater snails have been documented on the refuge.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Website

Satellite View

A 1000-acre nature preserve in the heart of the city, dedicated to preservation, education, and recreation for everyone. Ruffner Mountain Nature Center is an oasis of green space in the midst of Alabama's largest city. Watch for hawks in the sky and lizards in the woods. Explore the sites of now-abandoned iron ore mines and a former limestone quarry. Learn about natural and industrial history on one of our naturalist-led programs.

SP DeSoto

Information

Satellite View

It borders the Little River, which flows into the nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve. The 104-foot-tall (32m) DeSoto Falls, the state's highest waterfall, is found in a separate part of the park 6 miles (9.7 km) north of the main park.

SP Lake Guntersville

Webpage

Satellite View

But winter is the best time to find a greater variety of animals including loons that migrate to the area from northern climes, canada geese, several species of herons, a broad selection of ducks, and perhaps the most spectacular of all, the bald eagle!

Forums & Mailing Lists

Alabama Rare Bird Alert

Sightings

The report shows observations of rare birds in Alabama. Includes both unreviewed and reviewed/approved observations.

Albirds

Mailing Group

...for the discussion of wild birds, birdwatching and birding related issues (conservation, field trips, etc...) in Alabama (conservation, field trips, etc…) in Alabama More info: http://www.bham.net/aos

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Ecotours - Bird Treks

Tour Operator

We'll spend each night in the same beach house on Dauphin Island. Our house will give us a friendly family atmosphere, with a homemade breakfast each morning. This area of the Gulf Coast is where migrants get their first view of land after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Coast is a great staging area for travel weary migrants. Dauphin Island is famous for the Shell Mound and Goat Tree migrant traps. Birding daily in and around these locations will almost certainly provide some entirely new birds every day. Nearby areas including Bon Secour and the National Seashore will provide a diverse group of shorebirds, rails, and long-legged waders.

Naturalist Journeys

Tour Operator

Join Naturalist Journeys for a spring migration tour! Discover Dauphin Island, one of North America’s top spring migration destinations! Of Alabama’s 445 bird species, 95% have been seen here. This is where migrants first see land after crossing over the Gulf; a critical rest and rejuvenation stop.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [04 April] - Julian Bell

Report

A typical crewchange tour - constant changes to the vessel schedule meant although there seemed to be plenty of time to look around there was too much uncertainty to use this time usefully. Birding was therefore limited to walks around the block in downtown Mobile, Alabama, looking out of a car window between Mobile and New Orleans, and another drive from New Orleans to the heliport at Galliano…

2016 [03 March - May] - Bruce Wedderburn - Southeast USA for Spring Migration

Report

This was a two-month trip to southeast USA for Yvonne and myself, from late March through to late May, with a focus on the Spring migration, in particular the highly varied and colourful warblers.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Bay Breeze B&B

Accommodation

Open decks are for lounging in the sun, fishing or crabbing. During the summer and early fall months you may be privileged to take part in an unpredictable seafood Jubilee. Guest are invited to share the spectacular view of historic Mobile Bay from the sitting room with its cozy fireplace, the glassed porch bay room and living room. The family kitchen where breakfast is served each morning allows you to watch the seagulls wheel and dip through the air and the aerially graceful pelicans as they plummet into the bay for fish.

Festivals

Alabama Coastal BirdFest

Webpage

The 15th Annual John L. Borom Alabama Coastal BirdFest: A Birding & Nature Festival - October 4–7, 2018

Festival of the Cranes

Facebook Page

The Festival of the Cranes will be at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, southeast of Decatur. See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes as well as whooping cranes and white pelicans. Considered the easternmost refuge in the Mississippi Flyway, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population.

Museums

Alabama Museum of Natural History

Website

The ornithological collection consists of bird skins, eggs, and nests. The skin collection, numbering nearly fifteen hundred specimens, rests largely on the work of two men. The work of the first, Dr. William Avery, an avid collector and observer of birds in the late 1800s near Greensboro, is a collection of bird skins which constitute almost one-half of the collection at the museum…

Other Links

Alabama Birding Trails

Website

With 270 sites covering Alabama from the mountains to the gulf, the Alabama Birding Trails provide a roadmap of the best public lands to watch the birds. Over 430 different bird species have been spotted in Alabama. Come see what you can find! Get out and explore!

Birds

Website

Since man started keeping records, about 380 species of birds have been seen and recorded in the area now known as Alabama…

North Alabama Birding Trail

Website

Whether interested in a quiet morning walk or weeks of exploration, North Alabama is sure to please. Landscapes in the region range from tupelo swamps to blazing fields of wildflowers, and towering forests of oak and hickory to vast sheets of open water replete with loafing waterfowl…

Woodpeckers of Alabama

Website

The yellowhammer is one of nine woodpeckers native to Alabama. Six species are fairly common year round, and another arrives in autumn to spend the winter in large numbers. Take a walk through almost any wooded area with at least some mature trees and you will likely find one or more of these species. You are far less likely to encounter the rare and endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and it is probable that no living person has seen the now-extinct ivorybill in Alabama…