Alabama’s newest birding trail will officially open on September 21, 2012, when representatives from eight counties launch the West Alabama Birding Trail. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. at The Tom Bevill Visitor’s Center, 1382 Lock and Dam Road, Pickensville, Ala., in Pickens County.
Highlights of the launch event include a raptor trek presentation by 4-H Program Coordinator Becky Collier, which includes a bald eagle. An expert birder will guide an adult bird walk, and Lauren Chapman, Regional Extension Agent for 4-H for Hale, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties, will lead a bird walk and scavenger hunt for children. A sun safety program will also be presented by Patti Presley-Fuller and Denise Shirley with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
The eight counties that make up the West Alabama Birding Trail include Bibb, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Walker. The Alabama Birding Trail website, www.alabamabirdingtrails.com, offers detailed information about the sites and sounds of all of Alabama’s birding trails.
Key partners in the West Alabama Birding Trail include the Birmingham Audubon Society, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge, the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Moundville Archaeological Park, the U.S. Forest Service and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ State Parks and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Divisions.
This trail, one of eight covering the state, provides easy access to Alabama’s natural wealth as bird-watching tourists become an increasingly important source of revenue for Alabama. As a form of tourism, birding has seen significant growth both nationally and in Alabama over the past several years. A typical birding enthusiast is older and well-educated with disposable income. Alabama has perhaps the most diverse habitat in the Southeast, with over 400 species of birds.
Additional trail launches in the West Alabama Birding Trail include Moundville Archaeological Park in Hale County on November 3, with other events planned later in the fall at Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park in Bibb County, Lake Lurleen State Park in Tuscaloosa County, and at Talladega National Forest-Payne Lake Recreation Area in Bibb County.
The eight Alabama Birding Trails are an effective way to bring economic benefits to rural Alabama and provide a fun and educational resource for schools, churches, scout troops, families and birders of all ages. The Alabama Birding Trails offer the public a chain of eight geographic regions: Alabama Coastal, Alabama Black Belt, Appalachian Highlands, North Alabama, Piedmont Plateau, Pineywoods, West Alabama and Wiregrass.
The birding trails project is funded by the Alabama Tourism Department and managed by The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development. Other agencies offering technical support include the Birmingham Audubon Society, the Alabama Ornithological Society and local leaders within each region.