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Backbone Boat Ramp

Backbone Boat Ramp (managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is situated on the bank of a feeder creek that flows into Lake Demopolis, one of the impoundments on the Black Warrior River. A flooded cypress tree slough lies across the creek (private property, but visible) providing the visitor with year-round birding.

In spring and early summer, Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers are conspicuous.  Common Yellowthroats are semi-permanent inhabitants of the shrubs and grasses in the understory and Anhingas may be spotted here, as well. Look closely for Purple Gallinules and Common Moorhens in migration. During the cooler months, additional waterfowl – American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, and a variety of marsh ducks – may be present. (In a mild winter, Common Moorhen may linger)

From late spring through fall, wading birds frequent the region. Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons and White Ibises join the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Green Herons that are found here all year. Watch for Wood Storks, especially “kettling” in the skies above in late summer, and keep an eye out for Swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites at any time from March through August, but particularly in summer.

Winter brings Swamp and Song Sparrows, along with the aforementioned waterfowl. The area has a fair number of raptors. Barred Owls are common here, as are Red-shouldered and Cooper’s hawks. Red-tailed and Broad-winged (spring through fall) hawks hunt the nearby woods, along with Great Horned and Eastern Screech-owls.

Directions: From the intersection of US 43 and US 80 in Demopolis (food, fuel, lodging available) in Marengo County, proceed north 3.5 miles on US 43, and turn right (east) on CR 18 (Power Plant Road). Continue for 2.5 miles on CR 18 and turn right at the signage for Backbone Boat Ramp. There is paved parking and a very short walk to the boat ramp and cypress slough.

 GPS: 32.5670523 -87.8106417

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) (Mailing address)
Black Warrior and Tombigbee Lakes
34 Resource Management Dr.
Demopolis, AL 36732-1546
334-289-3540

Amenities: Parking, boat launch, fishing

Hours: 6 A.M.-10 P.M.
Fee: Free

Nearby Sites

Runaway Branch Park

Runaway Branch Park has two segments – called RP I and RP II – that bound the same body of water from the east and west. Expect the water to draw spring and fall migrants and riparian-type breeding birds. Look for both kites and Wood Storks in summer, and waterfowl in winter.

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Old Lock 7 Complex, West Damsite Park

There are two sections to this recreation area. To the south is a more park-like development with a camping area and a few picnic tables. The northern section is a parking lot overlooking the river and a boat ramp. A general mix of woodland songbirds are found here, most notably many Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parulas (both sections), and Louisiana Waterthrushes (southern portion). Consider combining this stop with the nearby Eutaw Airport for field and pinewoods birds.

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Forkland Campground

This Corps of Engineers-maintained site is similar to most others along the Black Warrior system: boat ramp, picnic area, deep water, well maintained facilities. Expect the usual complement of riparian woodland songbirds, a few waders, and a few waterfowl in winter. Spend some time birding the pine woods and scrub along the entrance road for Chats, Prairie Warblers, White-eyed Vireos, Bobwhites, Field Sparrows, even a few Bachman’s Sparrows.

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