There's no better way to enjoy the scenic natural beauty of the Gulf Coast than by getting away from it all at a Gulf Shores area beach house or condo rental. Sure, you'll find miles of stunning beaches, some of the best golf courses in the world, and more seafood than you could eat. But if you're an avid birdwatcher, you won't want to miss the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, one of the most popular local attractions among wildlife enthusiasts.

Stay sharp

Spanning two counties, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is an essential stop for amateur ornithologists. Depending on the time of year, you can see dozens
of species of birds here, from great blue herons to wild pelicans. Keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars handy if you want to see some of the South's most beautiful birds in their natural habitat.

Get up and get out

Birding in Gulf Shores isn't just a great way to learn more about nature and the wide variety of birds that call this area home - it's also an ideal opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise. The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail covers a wide area, and is divided into a series of loops for ease of navigation.

The Gulf Shores/Orange Beach loop is one of the largest and most tranquil paths you can enjoy. Beginning at the bridge over Perdido Pass on Highway 182, this trail offers some spectacular scenic viewpoints and the chance to see birds such as egrets, herons, loons and woodland hawks. There are more than 10 individual trails that make up this loop, centered around some of the area's most beautiful outdoor spaces including Boggy Point and Little Lagoon Pass.

You will also want to drive along the Fort Morgan loop, which is located at the western extremity of the peninsula and is an important stopover for spring and fall neotropical migrants. This classic birding paradise where terns, hawks, waterbirds and sparrows find their way is a favorite birding spot.

Don't miss Dauphin Island

During the spring, Dauphin Island is one of the most popular spots for birdwatchers due to the migration of approximately 345 different species - more than 85 percent of the species that inhabit Alabama. Located across Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan and accessible by ferry, this scenic area is a must for birders enjoying Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan vacation rentals year round.

There are more than 10 different spots to see the remarkable birds of the area at Dauphin Island, including Pelican Point, the Muddy Creeks Wetlands Management Area, Bellingrath Gardens and, of course, the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary.