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Cherokee Rock Village

The boulder fields at Cherokee Rock Village stand sentinel along an east-facing ridge and overlook Weiss Lake far below. This is an extraordinary location to find Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, and Great Crested Flycatchers, and is without doubt the best site for observing soaring raptors in the state. Sample the birds in the old fields and second-growth habitats along the entrance road.

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Ruffner Mountain Wetlands: Alabama Birding Trails

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.

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Talladega Mountains Natural Resource Center

The Talladega Mountains Natural Resource Center (a partnership between Jacksonville State University, the Cleburne County Commission and the Talladega National Forest) opened in November, 2012. The Mountain Center houses the JSU Field Schools and will act as a visitor center to “the highest concentration of nationally protected natural areas” in the country. The JSU Field […]

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Little River Canyon Center

The Little River Canyon Center, open since 2009, is a Jacksonville State University building located in Northeast Alabama that adjoins the Little River Canyon National Preserve in the city of Fort Payne, AL. With a portion leased to the National Park Service and the staff of the Little River Canyon National Preserve, the facility features […]

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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.

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Cheaha State Park — Bald Rock Trail

The Doug Ghee trail, an easy, level, ¼-mile long, handicap-accessible boardwalk, begins just beyond the historic Bald Rock Lodge in the heart of Cheaha State Park. The visitor should expect to see a wide range of woodland songbirds, most of the state’s woodpeckers (notably Pileated and Hairy), some migrants in season, and feeding flocks of wintering birds from October through March. The end of the boardwalk offers a sensational 180-degree view to the north, and is a superior hawk-watching spot from the highest point in the state.

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Borden Springs / Chief Ladiga Trail

The Chief Ladiga Trail is the jewel of Alabama’s Rails-to-Trails initiative. This former railroad bed passes through a multitude of habitats over many miles and provides opportunities to bird through the numerous access points along its length. At one point or another, almost any bird native to inland Alabama can be seen here.

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Little River Canyon Mouth Park

Canyon Mouth Park offers visitors one of the few opportunities to access the banks of the Little River by car. This is a good place to experience songbirds in the trees near the river, in the dense understory and woods beyond the picnic areas, and along the narrow path that follows the river upstream into the canyon. Soaring birds of prey are frequently seen in the skies above. Picnic tables, restrooms, and ample parking make this a good stopping place for a midday picnic, either before or after exploring the spectacular canyon rim.

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Tannehill State Historical Park

A large park with varying, all-age, pine-oak woodlands. Water ranges from babbling brook to rushing streams. Tannehill can be a fine spot for song-birding at all times except the middle of summer. Often very busy and noisy on weekends in the warm months; can be very serene on weekdays. Look for woodland songbirds and migrants here. A great spot for Louisiana Waterthrushes and Brown-headed Nuthatches.

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Weiss Lake Overlook

Weiss Lake, a 30,200 acre impoundment owned and operated by the Alabama Power Company, is fed by the Coosa, Chattooga and Little Rivers, and offers over 447 miles of shoreline and shallow flats, large coves, under-water drop offs and deep channels. The preferred starting point for birding Weiss Lake is the boat launch area on the west side of AL 68 in the middle of the Chattooga Bridge, which spans the main body of the lake. This is a good site for gulls, waterfowl, and eagles in winter; for swallows and riparian songbirds in spring and summer; and waders and some shorebirds in late summer and fall.

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Coleman Lake: Talladega National Forest, Shoal Creek

One of the most significant birding sites in Alabama, Coleman Lake is at present the only reliable location in the state for Red Crossbills, and boasts roadside looks at endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. This is a good location for Bachman’s Sparrows. It is also a great spot for viewing migrant and breeding songbirds and is excellent for spring and fall wildflowers, as well.

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Porter’s Gap – Pinhoti Trailhead, Talladega National Forest

Porter’s Gap is an access point to the Pinhoti Trail, a ridge-line trail linking Alabama and Georgia . The trailhead area provides high elevations for viewing unusual breeding birds nearing the southern end of their range (Scarlet Tanagers, Black-throated Green Warblers, and Ovenbirds), as well as for migrant songbirds in spring and fall. A north-easterly walk along the Pinhoti Trail eventually takes the visitor to a riparian habitat where Northern Parula Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Yellow-throated Warblers breed.

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