Spring bird migration is underway, and Alabama’s Dauphin Island is considered one of the top four birding destinations in all of North America.
The 14-mile-long barrier island, west of Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, is one of the first land areas that many neotropical migrant birds encounter after their 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico from Central and South America.
While the entire island is of vital importance for providing food and shelter to the travel-weary birds, the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board established the Audubon Bird Sanctuary in 1961 to create a protected area of forest on the island.
“The sanctuary contains 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach,” the ABS says on its website. The diversity of landscapes within the sanctuary helps to support the more than 400 bird species that have been documented on the island. The sanctuary has been designated as a National Recreational Trail and has been recognized by the National Audubon Society as “globally important” for bird migrations.
The spring migration at Dauphin Island runs from mid-March through the end of May. In addition to viewing opportunities at the sanctuary, visitors can also trek one of the other six designated birding trails throughout the island. For more information about these trails, visit the Alabama Birding Trails.
The Audubon Bird Sanctuary is at 213 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island, AL 36528. It is open from dawn until dusk and does not charge admission.