Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve

Bird watching as spring arrives

Winter on the Gulf Coast brings visitors from all over the country. No, I don’t mean snowbirds, the guests from the North and Canada who spend a good chunk of the season "in warmer climates down South.” I’m talking about our true feathered friends who leave their nests and escape the harsh weather to find food and survive.

Bird migration is prevalent in all seasons, particularly in the fall and spring. This usually is when bird watchers get excited and start documenting different species that pass through their area. According to birdnature.com, many birds breeding east of the Allegheny Mountains travel southwest through South Alabama and Northwest Florida, cross the Gulf of Mexico and settle in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. They begin their journey back home in the spring, and watchers are eager to spot them.

A popular stopover site for sparrows and warblers is Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve in Atmore, Ala. Visitors to the reserve usually can experience the birds beginning in late March and lasting through about May and sometimes early June. Campers who stay at Magnolia Branch often see a variety of species at the park, which has feeders set out so the birds can get the nutrients they need.

Speaking of feeders, backyards are notorious for bird sightings, as many people erect bird feeders and baths and sit back to watch which ones stop by for food. This is a good, free way to observe a variety of birds, right from your own home.

So whether you are looking for a spot in the woods to see different wildlife and pick out species or you just like the joy of seeing spring arrive, bird watching is a hobby many enjoy. Checking out new places to find birds also could help educate you as to which ones fly through a particular area during different times of the year.