Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve

Bird watching at Magnolia Branch

 "Hear me, hear me, hear me!” From somewhere in the distance, a bird is calling, making itself known.
 
"Pew, pew,” another says rather sharply. Glancing up, you see something fly by and land on a branch. There are a variety of birds that come through South Alabama at any given time of year. Spring migration season ended a few months ago, with some sparrows and warblers stopping over on their way home.

At Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve, a few different kinds of fowl can be spotted if you are in the right areas. It is the perfect place to bird watch, Park Coordinator Tracy Sells said. Those with binoculars might even can see birds hiding high in the trees.

"With so many wooded areas and the lake, Magnolia Branch is home to a variety of species (of birds) year-round,” Sells said.

The Eastern bluebird is a regular at the park. Its song sometimes sounds like a newborn puppy … a little shrill and repetitious, a low-pitched tu-a-wee sound in search of a mate or some attention.

The painted bunting also vacations at Magnolia Branch. These birds look like, well, a painting, sporting all the colors of the rainbow. Painted bunting are migratory songbirds that breed from eastern North Carolina south to northern Florida, including in South Alabama. They tend to arrive in late April and are gone by the end of October.

Another bunting that makes an appearance is the indigo bunting. A brilliant blue color, these birds migrate mostly at night and make their habitats in open woodland areas and marshes. They are closely related to the lazuli bunting, which also can be seen at Magnolia Branch.

Magnolia Branch’s General Manager Billy Smith said he has spotted a couple of Eastern whip-poor-wills, cardinals and an egret-type bird at the park recently.

"I couldn’t get close enough to take a good picture,” Smith said. "It glowed a brilliant white in the sunlight though.” He also said a few hawks and eagles have been seen flying around.

Anyone can come out and enjoy the park, Sells said. There is a $5 entrance fee, and for Tribal members, entrance is free with tribal ID. Other activities at Magnolia Branch include canoeing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, camping, horse riding … just to name a few. Visit magnoliabranch.com for more details and pricing.

But for those with a special spot in their hearts for nature and wildlife, "Birding is exceptional this time of year at Magnolia Branch,” Sells said.