done individually or in teams. The Global Big Day is sponsored by eBird and on May 13, 2017, almost 20,000 birders from 150 countries turned in 50,000 checklists with 6,564 species of birds spotted in one day. That is more than 60 percent of all of the species of birds in the world. Stretching that day to a year, The Big Year is the ultimate challenge in birding. It is a competition to see who can see the most birds in one year in a specific geographical area. A little curiosity and a greater awareness of birds can take you in many directions. Travel, see the country, see the world, and see the birds as you go! Maybe a Big Year is in your future. Gayle Gresham writes from her electricco-op powered home in Elbert, Colorado. She now has Merlin Bird ID on her phone and is ready to go watch some birds.
Alabama’s trails offer an abundance of bird-watching locations Alabama has an abundance of bird species – 430 at last count – to watch, from the Tennessee border to the Gulf Coast. The Alabama Birding Trails is a system of eight trails highlighting the best public locations available to watch birds yearround. According to its website, alabamabirdingtrails.com, our state provides a critical habitat for hundreds of bird species, from the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to the now flourishing bald eagle. As interest in wildlife observation grows, more people want to explore our amazing biodiversity, which makes Alabama second only to Florida in the Eastern U.S. in total number of species of plants and animals. The eight Alabama Birding Trails unify existing and potential birding sites into a series of cohesive trails and loops that are collectively marketed as part of a statewide system. Many of the sites along the various trails are already being used by thousands of birders and other visitors annually. The Alabama Birding Trails program recently announced the addition of 10 new birding trail sites, bringing the total number of locations to 280 in 65 counties. Two of the new sites are on Forever
Wild properties: the Wehle Forever Wild Tract near Midway, and the Yates Lake Forever Wild Tract near Tallassee. The eight other sites are: Heflin’s Cahulga Creek Park; Coosa County’s Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka; the Lee County Public Fishing Lake, near Opelika; the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve and Nature Center, in Auburn; Minooka Park, in Jemison; the Moss Rock Preserve, in Hoover; Shades Creek Greenway, in Homewood; and the Smith Mountain Fire Tower, near Dadeville. Alabama’s Birding Trails offer the public a chain of eight geographic regions: North Alabama, West Alabama, Appalachian Highlands, Piedmont Plateau, Black Belt Nature and Heritage, Pineywoods, Wiregrass, and Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Specific information on each region is available at the alabamabirdingtrails. com website. This project is a collaborative effort by the Alabama Tourism Department, University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Birmingham Audubon Society, chambers of commerce across the state, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Forest Service and others.
A killdeer, which often performs a “broken wing” routine to draw a predator away PHOTO BY KEN CHRISTISON
Red-tailed hawk watches a squirrel PHOTO BY DAVID MORRIS ON UNSPLASH
White egret near San Francisco Bay
Brown-headed nuthatch in Alabama PHOTO BY MARK LANGSTON
PHOTO BY ALFRED LEUNG ON UNSPLASH
34 APRIL 2018