Returning Home in the SpringEach year millions of North American birds return from their southern wintering quarters in south and Central America. The returns of these birds heralds the arrival of spring and perhaps the most exciting time in a birdwatcher's year. At this time, a large number of birds can be seen in fruiting trees, especially after increment weather. Since they nest much further north, many of these transient species are only passing through Alabama.
Stranded Travelers The open visits and clear views into the tree canopy below this overlook provide a unique vantage to see many birds. Be sure to check this area after a heavy rain in spring when the trees maybe packed with decayed migrants.
WarblersWarblers are perhaps the most colorful of all Alabama's birds. These small insectivores are an incredibly diverse group ranging from the chunky Yellow-breasted Chat to the smaller Yellow warbler. The diversity and brilliance of their colors must be seen to be believed.
Vireos are similar in size to the warblers but are not closely related. Vireos have more subtle color patterns of grays, greens, and yellows. They are distinguished from warblers by their larger, hooked bills and their face patterns of bright eye-rings or eye-stripes. You will
often hear the incessant questioning call of a vireo long before you see it.
Two species of tanager are found in Alabama. The male of both these species are striking red, while the females are yellowish green. Scarlet Tanagers are best told by their Jet-black wings, a feature absent from the pure red Summer Tanager.
Although thrushes are not as colorful as many other spring migrants, their glorious voices more than make up for their drab plumage. Five species can be found in Alabama during migration, all of which are separated by subtle differences in the spotting of their breast and patterns of their face.
Declining Neotropical Migrants
North American songbirds that winter south of the border are known as Neotropical migrants.
Populations of these birds have declined in recent for a number of reasons including:
Birds are losing their habitat hemisphere wide-from the wintering grounds in the south, through out their migratory areas to breeding ground in the north.
As habitats are lost and become increasing fragmented, threats to adult birds and their young increase.
Migration itself can also be hazardous as these birds fly thousands of miles hoping to find enough food along the way to sustain their journey.
Another major threat to these birds is free-ranging house cats which may kill thousands of songbirds each year. This has led to recent campaigns for owners to keep their cats indoors.