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Lake Nicol

Lake Nicol is an attractive, easily accessible, well-maintained, and popular wooded park on a substantial lake. The entrance road features several acres of open, mature pine woods. Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches are permanent residents here, as are Red-headed Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds. In winter, this the best place to see Golden-crowned Kinglets. The woods near the lake are made up of largely mature pines near the water, while hardwoods border the dirt roads through the park. You’ll find a good mixture of songbirds in the trees, and the water attracts waders and swallows. All the local birds of prey are represented, including visits from Bald Eagles and Osprey. A few waterfowl use the lake in winter, and shorebirds are occasionally seen on the lake banks and mudflats when the water levels in the lake drop.

It is situated minutes from a large new shopping center, and the many homes in the vicinity lend it the air of a “neighborhood” park. The proximity to ample services and improved roads makes it a magnet for local students and others seeking entertainment in the outdoors. Picnicking, fishing, boating and general parties and gatherings are popular pastimes at the lake. It would be advisable to visit early in the morning before crowds gather or on weekdays, as the noise and human presence might dampen bird activiy

Lake Nicol is in close proximity to Lake Harris on the map, but the two lakes are actually separated by a significant drive. The two lakes complement each other and the pair of sites could be birded together in a half-day.

Directions: From the intersection of McFarland Boulevard east and University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa (fuel, food, lodging available nearby), proceed north on McFarland Boulevard for 1.6 miles. Exit onto Rice Mine Road, and follow Rice Mine Road northeast for 2.6 miles. Turn right on New Watermelon Road (CR 87) and follow for 4.6 miles. Turn right onto Watermelon Road (CR 47) and continue for .7 mile, turning right on Nicol Park Road, which dead-ends at the park in 1.2 miles.

 GPS: 33.310936 -87.478904

Lake Nicol
4409 Nicol Park Rd
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406

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University of Alabama Arboretum

The single best location in Tuscaloosa for songbirds, the arboretum is a “must-see” for birders. Best in spring and fall migration, it is also a valuable resource for wintering birds. Easily accessed and compact enough to cover in less than half a day, this is the spot to find warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, and sparrows on all but the hottest days of summer.

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Lake Harris

Lake Harris sits at the end of a long, winding dirt road. The early second-growth habitat along Lake Harris Road is far more productive for birds than is the lake itself. Expect to see bluebirds, Bobwhites, turkeys, towhees, goldfinches, Chats, Prairie Warblers, Yellowthroats, Field and Chipping sparrows, and more. The lake could produce long-legged waders, some shorebirds and swallows, and a few wintering waterfowl.

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Lake Lurleen State Park

A large, well-visited park with staff, Lake Lurleen features a huge deep-water lake, extensive parking areas, and picnic areas under massive pines. Look for migrants in the forested areas in spring and fall, hundreds of swallows – mostly Cliff – and easy-to-find songbirds such as Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and (from spring through fall) Northern Parulas, Pine and Yellow-throated warblers, kingbirds, and Orchard Orioles. Look for gulls and waterfowl in winter, and a few waders throughout the year.

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