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Ruffner Mountain Wetlands

The Ruffner Mountain Wetlands are a series of small marshes and ponds, traversed by a boardwalk and trail, located on the other side of the mountain from the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center.  This new wetland area provides visitors to the steep, hilly terrain of the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve a chance to look for birds in an entirely different type of habitat.

From the the parking lot and gate on Ruffner Road, follow the signage for a .9-mile trail over relatively level terrain. The trail, an unpaved jeep trail, provides access to a  mixed-age, hardwood forest. In summer, the woods ring with songs and calls from Wood Thrushes; Hooded, Black-and-white, and Kentucky warblers; Summer Tanagers; Great Crested Flycatchers; Red-eyed and Yellow-throated vireos; Eastern Wood Pewees; and Pileated and Hairy woodpeckers.

The bird species to be observed as you enter the Wetlands change significantly. The tall grasses and edge habitat at the entry to the wetlands are home to numerous Field and Chipping Sparrows, along with Eastern Towhees and Northern Cardinals. From fall through spring, there are many Song and White-throated Sparrows.  Creature comforts in this area include a covered picnic pavilion and a shaded picnic area with many tables.

This is a good spot to see Catbirds and Common Yellowthroats in the warm months, and Song and Swamp Sparrows in the cooler months. The water should make this a very productive area in migration. The edge may produce Palm and Tennessee warblers in particular. Check the small trees around the ponds for Yellow Warblers in migration, and possibly as local breeding birds. Barred Owls and Red-shouldered and Cooper’s Hawks are common here. Waders are generally Green and Great Blue herons, with occasional visits from Black-crowned Night and Yellow-crowned Night herons.

Directions: From I-20 in Birmingham (Jefferson County), take exit 132B (Montevallo Road). Food, fuel, and lodging are available at or near the exit. Turn left onto Montevallo Road and follow .5 miles, turning left on 16th Street. In .2 miles, turn right on 2nd Avenue North. In .6 miles, merge onto 1st Avenue North, and in a further .5 miles, turn right onto Ruffner Road. Signage and a small parking lot for the Ruffner Mountain Wetlands are on the left in approximately 1.5 miles.

GPS: 33.562168 -86.68705

Ruffner Mountain Nature Center
1214 81st St S  Birmingham, AL 35206
(205) 833-8264

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Ruffner Mountain Nature Center & Preserve

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve is a thousand-acre park preserving the wooded slopes of Ruffner Mountain in the heart of Birmingham. In addition to an extensive trail system, Ruffner Mountain Nature Center offers a variety of camps, activities, and programs for visitors of all ages. Excellent birding can be enjoyed in the mixed vegetation around the Nature Center and the covered pavilion. The park never seems crowded or noisy, and the birds are plentiful. This is a great migrant trap in spring and fall. Virtually any perching bird native to north-central Alabama might turn up at Ruffner Mt. on a given day.

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Birmingham Zoo

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