Named for the “blanket of dark soil” that covers a belt line across the state, Alabama’s Black Belt region boasts award-winning hunting and fishing. Hunters and anglers praise the rich land and diverse ecosystems for its bountiful and beautiful wildlife, but the bounty extends beyond land and water. Look up to the skies, as hundreds of bird species call the Black Belt home, making the region a birdwatcher’s paradise.
The Alabama Birding Trails System, an amazing resource for Alabama birders, includes eight trails throughout the state, four of which have sights located within the Black Belt – the Piney Woods, Black Belt, West Alabama, and Wiregrass trails. These trails highlight the state’s best public spots for observing birds year-round. Each trail has anywhere from 20 to 32 stops, and stops vary from the Black Belt’s six state parks (Blue Springs State Park, Chewacla State Park, Chickasaw State Park, Lakepoint State Park, Paul M. Grist State Park, and Roland Cooper State Park) to boat ramps, city parks, dams, trails, and other public recreation areas.
The Alabama Birding Trails System website (www.alabamabirdingtrails.com) provides pictures, directions, GPS coordinates, and birding notes to navigate every stop along the way. Alabama Audubon and the American Birding Association are additional helpful resources covering Alabama bird and habitat-related conservation, birding events such as the Black Belt Birding Festival held annually in Greensboro, and recent species sightings.
Want a guided birding trip so planning doesn’t ruffle your feathers? Visit The Joe Farm in Newbern for one of their Connecting With Birds & Nature Tours; walking and riding (tractor) tours are available. Or, several of the region’s comprehensive overnight hunting lodges, including Alabama River Lodge, Pine Ridge Plantation, and Shenandoah Plantation, also cater to bird watchers. Pack your binoculars, and they will handle the rest!
True adventurers know the joy is in the journey, and Alabama Black Belt Adventures has produced fabulous guides to traveling the Black Belt. In their Feed Your Adventure: Flavors of the Black Belt, download the mobile trail pass and win prizes. Duke the dog tells you “What the Locals Eat”, “Where To Stay”, and what to do “Along The Way ‘’. He even shares a “Shopping List”! Plus, check out their Mural Trail, Unique Places to Stay list, Arts and Antiques list, and Our Culture and Creative People guide to elevate your road trip far beyond bird watching.
Alabama’s Black Belt is saturated with powerful history and interesting stories. The native-painted bunting bird is spectacularly vibrant, but the region’s spirit is arguably even more colorful. The area’s scissor-tailed flycatchers are delightfully quirky, and so are the hole-in-the-walls along its backroads. Traverse the 23 counties that make up the Black Belt, and you’ll catch whiffs of Native American, Antebellum, and Civil Rights time periods. Calling all birders to the Black Belt! Godspeed as you scavenge, take the pit stops, and don’t forget your camera!