The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail (ACBT) describes the birding spots most frequented by Alabama birders. This trail was developed during the late 1990s and officially opened soon afterward to offer bird enthusiasts an opportunity to view and enjoy a high diversity of bird species representative of Alabama’s Gulf Coast and to promote birding through tourism in the region.
The ACBT features six birding loops in Baldwin and Mobile counties totaling over 200 miles. Each loop covers different ecological regions representative of the northern Gulf Coast and enables birders to experience different assemblages of bird species within each region. Since its opening, the ACBT has been a very popular birding attraction and in 2003 received the Alabama Tourism Partnership Award for its outstanding contributions to the state travel industry.
The ACBT development was originally a collaborative effort between various entities including the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Daphne, Ala., and the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries. After nearly a decade of existence, oversight of the ACBT was turned over to the State Lands Division (SLD) of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). Upon receiving the ACBT, SLD personnel evaluated the condition of the existing trail and recognized a need for portions of it to be revised. This need for revision was primarily due to the catastrophic effects of several hurricanes, including Ivan and Katrina, and land development that together affected the quality of birding at some of the existing stops. To address these issues, SLD personnel identified new replacement sites with an emphasis on public lands featuring Forever Wild tracts, municipal parks, nature preserves and restored mitigation sites. Once identified, each new site was placed in the appropriate loop as a stop to fit sequentially in the existing ACBT. Some original stops were renumbered to better fit in their respective loops. As a result, 17 new stops with full descriptions make up the revised 50-stop ACBT.
Rare bird sighting reports can be accessed online at the Alabama Ornithological Society’s website (http://www.aosbirds.org/rarebirdalerts.php), which is updated regularly. Bird checklists of the Alabama coastal region are available on the this website or can be picked up at select stops along the Trail including the Gulf State Park Nature Center (ACBT 6), the museum at Fort Morgan (ACBT 15), the Magnolia Springs Landfill (ACBT 19), and at area chambers of commerce and welcome centers. For further details about birds of this area or other areas in Alabama, see “A Birder’s Guide to Alabama,” The University of Alabama Press (2000).
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a paradise not only for birders, but for visitors with many different outdoor interests. Hunting also occurs in our area and usually runs from October through February, though non-consumptive use is permitted year around. For more information about hunting and fishing dates and regulations contact the ADCNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at 251-626-5474 or visit their district office at 30571 Five Rivers Blvd, Spanish Fort, AL 36527.
We remind all birders to exercise care while enjoying the birds along the coast; care for the birds and their habitat, care for the property owners who host our avian visitors, and care for other birders. Thank you!