Alabama has a number of wonderful places to go birding.
Thanks primarily to Greg Harber, we have assembled a list of sites here that are favorites of members of the Birmingham Audubon Society. We strongly suggest that you get hold of the DeLorme state map for Alabama when trying to find the locations denoted on the maps pointed to by the links below. DeLorme coordinates are included in the descriptive text that tells how to locate the sites. Please respect property owners’ rights when visiting these sites. With one or two careless acts, a few thoughtless birders can spoil birding sites for everyone.
Birmingham Area Location Descriptions
(You will need a Birmingham city map to locate many of these sites.)
- Birmingham Zoo and Botanical Gardens – Located in Lane Park near Mountain Brook Village and easily accessed from US 280 at the Hollywood Boulevard exit, both the Zoo and Botanical Gardens offer excellent birding opportunities, especially during migration. At the zoo, walk the road back to the director’s house. The ‘zoo doo’ pile can be a magnet for flies, drawing in the birds as a result! Walk the uphill portions of the BBG at its northern boundary and near the bog and wildflower gardens. Look for warblers, tanagers, vireos, grosbeaks and birds of prey.
- Robert Jemison Park – This Mountain Brook city park is located a short distance from the Zoo and BBG and can easily be visited following an outing to those locations. Located along Mountain Brook Parkway just east of the Brookwood Village Mall, this park offers a long walking trail along Shades Creek. This is a popular spot for joggers and ‘power walking MB housewives’ so expect company! Early morning is best. Expect the same species mentioned above for the Zoo and BBG.
- Irondale Furnace – This park is located in the Cherokee Bend neighborhood of Mountain Brook along the banks of Shades Creek. A small creek, bordered by willow trees and various shrubs, flows along the northern edge of the park, adjacent to the trail leading from Stone River Road. This small park is a surprisingly good location to see a variety of warbler species and various hawk species have been seen here. To reach the park, turn off of Old Leeds Road, on the eastern side of the Mountain Brook Golf Course, on to Old Leeds Lane. Follow Old Leeds Lane to the 4 way stop at Stone River Road. Turn left and park on the wide shoulder on the right. The trail is ahead on the L.
- East Lake Park – This popular Birmingham City park is located in the northeast part of the city, near the I-59/1st Avenue N interchange. Park in the lot opposite the police station on 84th street. There is also a parking lot on the north side of the lake at 81st street. An exercise track encircles the lake and offers easy viewing opportunities. Although the park has its share of ‘domestic fowl’ it is a good place to see winter waterfowl and yellow crowned night herons in the summer months.
- Airport Fields – The fields surrounding the Birmingham Airport are fairly reliable locations for meadowlarks, shrikes, killdeer and kestrels. Bobolinks are possible in migration, if the grass is not too short. Keep an eye out for hawks too! Follow the signs from I-59/20 or take 81st street from East Lake Park. Perhaps the easiest viewing place for parking/safety reasons is the intersection of 68th street and 52nd Avenue (northeastern end of the main runway). Scan the ditches for sparrows.
- Ruffner Mountain Nature Center – Located on the north slope of Ruffner Mountain, this large green space (nearly 1,000 acres) is worth a visit whenever visiting East Lake Park, to the north. The trail that begins just past the picnic pavilion winds past an old cistern, which is the only fairly reliable water source on the mountain. This location offers your best chance for seeing birds. Head south on Oporto-Madrid from 1st Avenue N and turn left at the sign for Ruffner at Rugby Avenue.
- Lake Purdy – Located east of US 280 on AL 119, this large lake offers good opportunities for seeing large waders and shorebirds, when the water level is down. Birds of prey are reliable too. Turkeys are possible and late summer offers opportunities for unusual post-breeding birds.
- Oak Mountain State Park – The fishing lakes at the ‘far end’ of the park offer the best chances for viewing birds, away from the crowds. Scan the shrubs on the dike/dam and the trees near the picnic area. Winter will usually bring some waterfowl. The trail leading away from the R/C track (accessible from the main park road) leads to a small spillway and lake. Check this area in the spring.
- Limestone Park – This Alabaster City Park is quickly becoming a favorite of many local birders. There is a tremendous wetland area at the park that hosts interesting local breeders like Anhingas and several species of egrets and herons. To reach the site take the I-65 exit # 238 (Alabaster-US 31) and drive south on US 31 approximately 4 miles to the park, on the right immediately south of the trailer park adjacent to the Saginaw Pipe Plant. Please do not interfere with any model airplane hobbyists at the park – their club leases part of the park and they have the right of way.
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