Birds of the backcountry: Species to spot in Gulf State Park
From waterbirds like the heron and white ibis to plovers, gulls and seabirds, there are many ornithological wonders in the Gulf Shores area that are sure to please bird-watching enthusiasts who book Gulf Shores vacation home rentals.
Although you can see this fascinating wildlife all across the region on beaches, in bayous and on canals, one great place to spot birds is Gulf State Park. Nature enthusiasts can explore the park's Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails to find a peaceful atmosphere that's perfect for bird watching.
As you walk or hike through the park, challenge yourself to keep an eye out for these three birds:
You'll instantly recognize the sound of these birds when you set out on the Bobcat Branch Trail. This trail is a haven for woodpeckers, as it is filled with trees perfect for this species. Look and listen as you follow the trail, and your senses might lead you to a woodpecker pecking away to get at the insects inside. The pileated woodpecker will be easy to spot - about the size of a crow, it's the biggest woodpecker found
in the area.
Strolling along the Tallow Trail, you may see the green heron fishing in the creek for dinner. Unlike other herons, this bird is small, measuring just 25 to 48 inches. Its glossy green cap and back along with its reddish, chestnut brown neck make it one of the most recognizable wetland birds in America. Although these birds can be relatively inconspicuous, you may hear one squawking loudly if you approach quietly.
This migratory waterbird is elusive, but you might spot one floating along as you traverse the Holly Trail. With its buffy yellow plumage that is mottled with black and brown, the yellow rail blends in well with marshes and dune grass. It prefers weaving through the grasses to flying, so keep your eyes low to spot this species.
You'll find numerous varieties of feathered neighbors along the coastal area. In fact, the eight miles of paved paths in the Backcountry Trails are part of the two-county Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Make birding a priority during your next visit to the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast, and you'll become fascinated by the different perspective of the natural beauty here.
Nature & Trails