The North Alabama Birding Trails

The North Alabama Birding Trail is made up of 50 different sites located in eleven different counties, and the scenery you will see is gorgeous.

It ranges from the mountains in the northeast corner of the state, to lakes and rivers in the central valley.

It also includes dense forests found in the Bankhead National Forst, located in the western part of the state.

These rich environments provide very attractive habitats for several species of both resident birds year around, to transient birds just passing through.

The rich and dense forests attract the woodland birds, and the vast waterways in the state attract the waterfowl.

The beautiful songbirds you and your family can see are attracted by the vast number of open farm fields found here as well.

This trail, also known as the NABT, is not an actual trail, but the various trails as mentioned earlier.

The sites located there include short walking trails, roadside pull-offs, as well as areas that can only be accessed by long hikes.

The History of the North Alabama Birding Trail

North Alabama Birding Trail SignNorth Alabama Birding Trail Sign

The history of North Alabama Birding Trail began in 2005, when it opened, and it joined the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, which runs along the Gulf Coast.

This northern trail all happened as the result of a cooperative effort between several different entities.

They included local governments, north Alabama businesses, private industry, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

This trail was developed for one major reason; to capitalize the numerous natural areas in the northern part of the state.

It was funded by a matching grant through the Federal Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, and several other smaller matching funds.

Most of this beautiful birding trail is located in the Tennessee Valley in the northern part of the state, and the landscape there is prime for numerous birds.

What Exactly is the North Alabama Birding Trail?

Back Pond at the TrailsBack Pond at the Trails

The North Alabama Birding Trail, like the other trails, is a driving route that connects a series of carefully selected locations.

These locations allow you and your family, as well as avid bird watchers to observe birds, as they are in most all cases tied to particular types of habitats.

This allows all visitors the ability to see and take pictures of a variety of different species.

These sites are marked with informational signs that will tell you more about these particular birds, and the habitat where they live.

There are also sites along these trails where you have to hike for a while, or in some cases, make have to take a canoe to get close up views.

There are also locations that have handicapped accessible observation platforms, as well as boardwalks or other unique features.

Birds at the TrailsBirds at the Trails

The North Alabama Birding Trail signs are imprinted with a very distinctive logo; a belted kingfisher, which is the trails official symbol.

There is also a trial guide provided by the Alabama Department of Conversation and National Resources.

This trail guide provides detailed road directions to each site, a description of the site, as well as a bird checklist of the birds you can see there.

Each of these sites has a different type of the varied terrain that you will find there.

These sites along this natural trial have different features including the following.

  • Boardwalks that Intertwine Through Thick Tupelo Swaps
  • Fallow Fields
  • Hardwood Forests
  • Open Rivers and Lakes

They also have descriptive panels that provide information about the different species of birds that are in the area, the surrounding natural habitat, as well as the area’s history.

This trail has a very high number of birds that visit and live in this area, as it sets on the eastern fringe of the Mississippi Flyway.

This flyway is one of four bird migration routes in the United Sates, and because of this, there are a large number of different species of birds.

During the annual migration, visitors and avid bird watchers can see migrating waterfowl, songbirds, as well as over 400 different species.

The Prime Season for the North Alabama Birding Trail

Birds at the North Alabama Birding TrailsBirds at the North Alabama Birding Trails

The types of birds you will see at the North Alabama Birding Trail, changes with the seasons, but there are prime seasons.

These prime seasons are the spring as well as the fall months, when the migrating birds fly through the state.

They will stop to eat and graze, and the woodlands are full of both songbirds and flitting warblers.

There are 52 species of warbler that visit the south, and most of them look alike in shades of yellow or brightly patterned colors.

They will flit in trees, and some are more solid-colored, and will work close to or on the ground.

In the winter bird watchers can see waterfowl including Canada geese, several types of ducks, snow geese and herons, in the back bays and rivers.

You may also, if you are lucky, catch a viewing of rare birds like white pelicans and red-necked grebes.

The Three Loops of the North Alabama Birding Trail

The trail sites in the North Alabama Birding Trail are divided into three loops, and they include the following.

  • The Northwest Loop
  • The Central Loop
  • The Northeastern Loop

The Northwest Loop

First on this list is the Northwest Loop, which is made up of 15 sites along the shores of Wilson, Wheeler, and Pickwick Lakes.

These lakes are the home to bald eagles, several different types of gulls, as well as numerous types of waterfowl.

Migrating shore birds also stop at Leighton Ponds, a flooded lowland area east of Tuscumbia.

The Central Loop

The Central Loop is next, and it features 18 stops, with the majority of them in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, and during the winter months it is very active.

Bird watchers there can see thousands of sandhills cranes, geese, as well numerous ducks.

There are other stops such as the Monte Sano State Park, where the wooden highlands attract migrating warbles.

The Northeastern Loop

The Northeastern Loop is the final loop, and this has 17 stops in the Appalachian foothills.

This covers several state parks where you can see bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, as well as falcons.

If you and your family love to view birds, the North Alabama Birding Trail is a place you have to visit.


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