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Airport, Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island Airport is set in a salt water marsh in which may be found Clapper Rail (common), Virginia Rail and Sora are fairly common(fall and winter), though secretive. Yellow Rail is very rare in winter as is Black Rail most of the year. Nelson’s and Sharp-tailed Sparrows may be seen in the grasses on the edge of the marsh. Long-legged waders may be seen feeding in the ponds on either side of the entrance.

Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge

Choctaw NWR is composed of over 4,000 acres of rivers, sloughs, bottomland hardwood forest, and a small amount of tall-grass cropland. Swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites, Anhingas, Purple Gallinules, Least Bitterns, King Rails, and Common Moorhens nest here, with Painted Buntings as likely breeders, too. Ospreys and Bald Eagles are a common sight, and as many as 10,000 waterfowl winter here most years. There are large numbers of Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, and Acadian Flycatchers.

Conecuh National Forest

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.

Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge

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.

James D Martin Heronry Overlook

The James D Martin Heronry Overlook provides a rare opportunity to observe an active heron rookery, without risking disturbance to the colony. Located at the southernmost edge of James D. Martin Wildlife Park, the heronry is protected from disturbance by its location on a small island in an extensive backwater of Neely Henry Lake, on the Coosa River, despite its proximity to I-759 and Gadsden Mall. Dozens of Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets are present on their nests from March through late May or early June.

Ten Islands Historical Park

Ten Islands Historical Park, on the shores of Neely Henry Lake just above the dam, offers first-rate birding. Though the park itself is small, there is a vast amount of excellent habitat here – the entrance road provides shoreline access to deep water, pullout areas to check grassy edges and early second-growth pines. There is a good wooded trail from the parking lot along a finger of the lake. The park is good for songbirds, swallows, waterfowl, raptors, and more.

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Phenix City Riverwalk

The Phenix City Riverwalk in Russell County snakes along the banks of the Chattahoochee River for almost 1.25 miles as it traces the Alabama-Georgia state line. Follow the elevated boardwalks and the paved walkways and seize the opportunities to trek down to the river’s edge or to scramble over a boulder field. The woods here – largely mature hardwoods with varying amounts of understory -- are rife with riparian-forest songbirds. Look for waders and swallows over the river, with some gulls and the odd tern in winter. As this site requires no less than a 2 1/2 – mile walk, expect to spend a short half-day to cover most if not all of the trail. If pressed for time, spend 1-1 ½ hours birding the southern portion from the entrance near the Ampitheatre to the 13th St bridge and back.

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Lake Livingston and Trails

Lake Livingston in Sumter County and the system of nearby trails constitute one of southwest Alabama’s most outstanding birding sites. The 54-acre lake attracts waders, swallows (warmer months) and some waterfowl (colder months). The extensive series of trails pass along the lake’s banks, through mature forest, by second-growth and scrub, and eventually through wonderfully restored Black Belt prairie grasslands. This unmatched variety of habitats provides for a long list of birds. There is potential for a series of lengthy hikes here. A half day is a short visit; it would be easy to spend a full day and never get bored.

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Gunter Hill Park

Gunter Hill Park and Campground lies just 15 minutes and a world away from downtown Montgomery. Paved roads lead through mature woods of pine and moss-draped hardwoods to the banks Catoma Creek, a backwater of the Alabama River. There are two loops here, the Antioch and Catoma loops--the Catoma Loop is far more extensive, encompassing some second-growth, trails, hardwood bottomlands, park-like campgrounds with open understory, bridges over a creek, and bluffs overlooking the Alabama. Expect to find a great variety of birds, including Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Northern Parulas, Redstarts, vast numbers of Indigo Buntings, Summer Tanagers, Orchard Orioles, and Great Crested Flycatchers.

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