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State of Alabama

Flicker
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus ©KCBirdFan - Wikimedia

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.

Top Sites

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Sightings

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WebBirder Hot Spots

Contributor

Suzanne & Michael Owens

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 420

As at April 2015

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 South-Eastern States

- Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi John H Rappole 336 pages, 420 colour photos, 379 dist maps. Florida University Presses 2006

ISBN: 0813028612

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Alabama Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide

by Bill Thompson III Cool Springs Press 2004

ISBN: 1591860997

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Alabama Birds

by James Kavanagh; Illustrated by Raymond Leung, Waterford Press 2001

ISBN: 1583551301

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birder's Guide to Alabama

John F Porter, Alabama University Press 2001

ISBN: 0817310525

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birder's Guide to Alabama and Mississippi

Ray Vaughan - Paperback - 218 pages (January 1994) Gulf Publishing Company

ISBN: 0884150550

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

State Bird

Yellowhammer [Northern Flicker] Colaptes auratus

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

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.

Organisations

Alabama Bird Records Committee

Website

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

All the gen on the local chapter

Cullman Audubon

Website

Meetings, contacts and newsletters…

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.

Festivals

Alabama Coastal BirdFest

http://www.alabamacoastalbirdfest.com

2nd Annual Alabama Coastal BirdFest - October 20-23, 2005. More than 20 guided birding tours along the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail are planned, including stops at Weeks Bay, Bellingrath Gardens, Bayou la Batre, Historic Blakeley State Park and the Tensaw Delta, Dauphin Island, Bon Secour, and Gulf Shores…

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…

Reserves

Alabama Birding Trails

Website

Alabama is a birding paradise. Forests, mountains, meadows, swamps, and beaches dot the landscape, creating a plethora of avian habitats. From the majestic bald eagle, symbol of our nation's heritage, to the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, to the crowd-pleasing Painted Bnting, over 400 species of birds grace the blue skies above Alabama…

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

Website

This place is for the birds! A great blue heron sails across a Mobile Bay sunset. Pelicans fly in perfect formation as they prepare to nose-dive into the Gulf for the catch of the day. The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a birder's paradise. Our sun-drenched coast is a popular resort area for a variety of feathered visitors and year-round residents. The trail spans two counties, and is enhanced by directional and interpretive signage, offering birding enthusiasts endless opportunities for avian appreciation…

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…

Choctaw NWR

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…

Dauphin Island Birding page

Information

Satellite View

Dauphin Island is one of the major birding hotspots in Alabama and they have just recently gotten this site online. The Sanctuary consists of 164 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp and a beach, located at the eastern end of Dauphin Island, a 14 mile long barrier island off the Alabama Gulf Coast. The Sanctuary is of vital importance because it is the largest segment of protected forest on the Island, the first landfall for neo-tropical migrant birds after their long trans-Gulf flight from Central and South America each spring. Here these birds, often exhausted and weakened from severe weather. During the long flight, find their first food and shelter. It is also the final feeding and resting place for these birds on their return flight in the fall.

Lake Guntersville State Park

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!

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center

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.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Albirds

Mailing List

To post to list: albirds@yahoogroups.com

List contact: albirds-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: albirds-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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

Other Links

Alabama Birding Trails

Facebook Page

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…