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Pelicans fly in perfect formation as they prepare to nose-dive into the Gulf for the catch of the day. A great blue heron sails across a Mobile Bay sunset. The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail (ACBT) is a birder's paradise. Our sun-drenched coast is a popular resort for a variety of feathered visitors and year-round residents.

The trail winds through more than 50 birding sites in Baldwin and Mobile counties, and is enhanced by directional and interpretive signage. Loops are close enough that you can easily drive from one to another. Take your time and do a different loop each morning or try three in a day. In between each are plenty of places to eat, sightsee and soak up the local flavor.

Watch as the original snowbirds stop off to check their flight gear in preparation for their migration to the southern hemisphere. Each fall thousands of neo-tropical migratory birds stop on the Alabama coast to gear up for their annual trek to more temperate climates. In the spring they're back again, some making just a quick layover while others hang around for longer.

The Hummer/Bird Study Group sets up a bird banding station each April and October at Fort Morgan State Historic Site. Birds are captured, measured, weighed, banded and released, in order to monitor population and study the effects of weather upon migration patterns. You may even get the chance to hold, adopt and release a bird before it begins its long journey across the Gulf of Mexico or as it heads home. This event is so valuable to birding research and so popular with the public, it has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine.

Experts and novices alike will find the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail Guidebook to be a great resource. This 52-page booklet is chock full of color photographs, maps and detailed descriptions of the many birding areas along Alabama's Gulf Coast. It can also be downloaded at

The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a partnership between the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Friends of the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, the Mobile Convention and Visitors Bureau, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Ornithological Society.

Grab your binoculars, your guidebook and your life list and hit the trail to discover why this place is for the birds.

Information Provided by Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau

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