The sanctuary consists of 164 acres of largely maritime pine forest with several miles of trails. Passerines prefer the oak grove of the old Banding Area to the extreme east end of the Campground Trail and the south boundary of the swamp along the Dune Edge Trail. Swainson’s Warbler is regularly found at the Banding Area and Black-whiskered Vireo may be found there occasionally. In addition, a Painted Redstart was seen here in spring 2011, which accounted for the second state record.
Bellingrath Gardens is a former fish camp on the banks of the Fowl River whose owners, Walter and Bessie Bellingrath, converted to a garden with both formal and natural features.
The entire 900-acre complex is a bird sanctuary and there is an observation tower overlooking the Fowl River and salt marsh. Although good year-round, birding potential for neotropical migrants increases during the spring and fall months. Cruises through the waters of the Fowl River aboard the Southern Belle are available March through November.
From its humble beginnings on February 1, 1940 as the keel was laid at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, Battleship USS ALABAMA (BB-60) has had a remarkable career. She began her World War II adventures in the North Atlantic in 1943, then later that year, went to the South Pacific seas. She ended up in Mobile, Alabama as a National Historic Landmark and memorial to millions.
Home to a crew of 2,500 courageous Americans, this 45,000 ton gentle giant’s WWII adventure culminated with BB-60 leading the American Fleet into Tokyo Bay on September 5, 1945. Nine Battle Stars for meritorious service were awarded the “Mighty A” during her brief three year tenure as the “Heroine of the Pacific”.
Most American warships end their useful life after wartime, but ALABAMA was destined to live another day. In May 1962, the Federal Government announced that BB-60 and others would be scrapped, but a forward-looking group of Mobilians and other Alabamians saw a bright future in the aging warship. They envisioned the ALABAMA as the anchor attraction of a Veterans Memorial Park to be located in Mobile. That impossible dream came true on January 9, 1965 when USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park opened to the public.
Battleship Park presents the birder with a diversity of habitat to explore and a great variety of birds to observe. Pinto Pass and the mudflats of Mobile Bay filled with waterfowl in winter and shorebirds during migration, short grass lawns for dowitchers and Black-bellied Plover, salt water marsh with herons and egrets. During low tide this area is filled with herons, egrets and occasionally ibis, especially in late summer. Black-necked Stilt may be around any time of the year and in summer, Gull-billed Tern is present.
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a paradise not only for birders, but for visitors with many different outdoor interests. The Coastal Birding Trail 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.