Alabama is a hidden gem for bird watchers. We’ve researched all of Alabama’s birding trails & compiled a list of the top 5 trails in this state for birdwatching.
The southern United States offers some of the best bird watching opportunities in the country. Alabama, whose nickname is the Yellowhammer State (after the state bird) is one of the top regions for collecting, cataloguing, and enjoying American avian wonders.
- Most Common Birds — Belted Kingfisher, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Pine Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Wood Duck
- Rarest Birds — Ash-Throated Flycatcher, Golden Eagle, Great Black-Backed Gull, Rock Wren, Western Kingbird
- Environment of Alabama — Forests, mountains, plains, swamps, beaches, and meadows
- Best Time for Birdwatching Travel — A vast variety of environs and climates makes Alabama perfect for year-round birdwatching
- Maps — We recommend checking out this website for a full, comprehensive map of birding in Alabama
Top 5 Alabama Birding Trails
Here’s a brief look at a handful of the absolute best birding locales in the state.
North Alabama Birding Trail
Not specifically a trail in the traditional sense, the North Alabama Birding Trail is more of an extensive grouping of roadside stops and birding locales across the top half of the state. The NABT is noted for its great variety of birding opportunities because of the many different types of terrain it covers, including forests, valleys, fields, and wetlands.
The NABT is comprised of 50 different sites reachable by car and boat. Of the 420 species of bird found in the state of Alabama, a majority of them can be seen and catalogued on this “trail”. Some sites offer visitor centers for a more guided experience, while others leave you to your own birdwatching devices–though there are printed birding guides available at many locations in the region. From waterfowl to songbirds, birds of prey to shore birds, the extra-large selection of flyers on the North Alabama Birding Trail makes for a beautiful birding destination.
Here’s the official site of the North Alabama Birding Trail.
Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
One of the most popular birding hot spots in the entire country, let alone the state, is the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Located across Baldwin and Mobile counties on the Gulf Coast, the ACBT consists of 50 different stops on six separate looping trails. Each loop offers enough birding diversity and fun to take up at least an entire day, making the ACBT a vacation destination that could keep you busy for a whole week or more.
Whether your taking your time or breezing through, the ACBT is a waterfront birding paradise that features an amazing assortment of species for your collecting pleasure. But while the ACBT is the perfect location for birding enthusiasts with its awesome diversity of fabulous flyers, there’s also plenty to do for members of the family that haven’t jumped on the ornithological bandwagon, including:
- Combing the beaches
- Visiting historical landmarks
- Great fishing
- And championship golf courses.
The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a region everyone can, and will, enjoy. Check out the official website of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail here.
Fort Morgan Birding Loop
If you’d rather focus your birdwatching on a single location instead of a long route composed of several hot spots, check out the Fort Morgan Loop, part of the world famous Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.
Populated with the likes of egrets, gulls, herons, and loons, Fort Morgan is a great locale for watching shorebirds, waterfowl, and other coastal flyers.
The Fort Morgan Birding Loop features a variety of individual trails that offers unique opportunities for getting close to Alabama’s most beautiful avian wildlife. Among the trails are the Jeff Friend Trail, the Pine Beach Trails, Mobile Street, The Fort, and the Marsh. The whole loop begins at the intersection of AL 180 and AL 59 in the scenic town of Gulf Shores and reaches into the beautiful Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
If you’d rather take your time than drive around from site to site all over the state, the Fort Morgan Birding Loop is the perfect hotspot for coastal birdwatching.
Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail
Named for the famously rich, black soil found in this region, the Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail is a beautiful landmark for history, Dixieland tradition, and natural wonders.
Located across the south central portion of Alabama, all the way from the borders of Mississippi to Georgia, and including 19 separate counties, the Black Belt Trail features a great assortment of birding opportunities, from wetlands fowl to birds of prey.
But the Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail is much more than a birder’s paradise–the region also includes plenty of non-avian fun, including Civil War reenactments, historical bridges, and local shopping that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you’re looking to collect the rare Golden Eagle or to soak up the culture of a true Dixieland destination, the Black Belt Trail is a great place to travel, any time of the year.
Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail
Featuring the highest spot in Alabama–located in Cheaha State Park–the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail offers vistas to die for, as well as a plethora of observational opportunities that will have birders smiling from ear to ear.
The PPBT is in the east central part of the state and stretches across five counties for a diverse landscape of hills, ridges, valleys and forests. With more than 3.6 million acres, the PPBT is a grand destination for birders from all over the world.
The trail is in the direct migration path during the winter and spring months, which makes it a very special destination for birdwatchers looking for flocks beyond number. Among the many different species of birds you’ll see at the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail are:
- Bald eagles
- Great blue herons
- And the majestic Great Horned Owl
If the PPBT is your destination of choice, be sure to check out Fort Toulouse National Historic Park, Lake Martin, and the aforementioned Cheaha State Park. Any birder should be excited to explore the great birding opportunities available in this gorgeous region of Alabama.
About the State of Alabama
Bordered by Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama is a state that offers a great assortment of climates and environments and is often listed among the top states in the U.S. for biodiversity.
Alabama is known as the “Heart of Dixie” and has a rich history and culture that is common among the states of the southeastern United States. Hit hard by a flailing economy that spanned the years from the Civil War to World War II, Alabama has since rebuilt itself with the courage, resiliency, and perseverance common among Dixieland’s people. Among the many tourist draws to the newly revitalized Alabama are the fabulous birdwatching opportunities available in every corner of the Yellowhammer State.
Here is the official website of the Alabama Tourism Department.