Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve

Flock to Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve for bird watching

While everyone is just now dusting off their winter jackets and sweaters, our feathered friends have been preparing to head for warmer climates for quite some time now.

The fall and winter migratory seasons often overlap with some species of birds. According to, there are different types of migration, usually categorized as short-, medium- and long-distance migrants.

And at Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve (MBWR), you can already witness a flock of birds getting a head start on migrating for the winter.

Alabama Ornithological Society lists 421 species that fly through the state during migratory seasons:

·        158 species regularly breed in Alabama

·        174 species stay the winter in Alabama

·        80 species migrate through Alabama

·        3 species that use to migrate are extinct

·        2 species are extirpated

·        4 species are exotic and non-native

Magnolia Branch is the perfect spot for bird watching because it falls within the Mississippi Flyway, which is one of the main migration routes stretching from the Arctic Circle to Mexico and South America. Lots of waterfowl stop over at MBWR; if you are lucky, you can also spot the ruby-throated hummingbird. Recently, the olive-sided flycatcher, northern shoveler and a few warblers were among the species sighted by an online site.

But why do birds migrate in the first place? It’s not only to escape the harsh weather conditions of the north. Birds migrate to find better food sources and habitats as well. When winter sets in, many resources are frozen or killed by the cold weather, so birds must migrate elsewhere in order to survive.

Southwest Alabama is a safe haven for many fowl because of the relatively mild winters and natural habitats that exist here, such as Magnolia Branch, which even has bird feeders installed on the property.

So next time you are on a hike on our trails or sitting lakeside near a campfire, pause for a second and look up. See if you can identify the next bird you see.