The Alabama Gulf Coast plays host to many different kinds of birds, together with habitats running from coastal to marshland to bay places. This region on the Gulf of Mexico is also an important stop-over habitat for a number of migratory birds who make the area their passing home.
In summertime, the savvy bird watcher may spy the infrequent groove-billed ani from the canal near Lake Shelby. In between sand dunes, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the snowy plover, a shorebird whose California cousin is on the endangered species listing. Snowy plovers’ numbers are decreasing due to beach habitat disturbance, caused mostly by humans and some animals. So be sure to tread carefully.
Lake Shelby, just east of Gulf Shores in Gulf State Park, is the ideal place to be on the watch for waterfowl.
There is something almost zen-like in watching the heavens as a Great Blue Heron soars into view within the snow-white beaches of the coast to search for his dinner. Fantastic Blue Herons are yearlong residents into the region, where you will find them along the shoreline, or nesting in trees or bushes near the water. You will see a line of pelicans flying over the Gul birds found in rann of kutch in which they chase schools of fish into shallow waters due to their own dinner. They will plunge-dive right into the water to catch fish, then develop and chuck it into the air to be caught in their invoices for ingestion. And frequently, a fellow pelican will pirate the catch in mid century!
Over 370 species of birds have been identified during migratory year at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, on the Birding Trail just west of Gulf Shores toward Fort Morgan. Bon Secour protects 7,000 acres of wildlife habitat and is located on the critical migratory path leading south to lower Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Year-round, you can spot a number of egrets and herons, as well as red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, belted kingfishers and ospreys. Very rarely, you might catch a glimpse of a magnificent frigate bird or bald eagles.
The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail leads you through 2 hallways, in loops developed to showcase the very best areas to see birds in their habitats. The loops are close enough together which you can drive easily from one to another, using the trail signage as the guide. You’ll find interpretive signs across the loops that will assist you with your search. The area’s Welcome Centers will provide you with maps and information about the Birding Trail.
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is definitely a bird-watcher’s paradise! However, it’s also so much more. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for refreshment, diversion, and relaxation in beautiful Gulf Shores / Orange Beach.