The South provides the perfect setting for bird watchers. Grab your binoculars and check out some of these places where Mother Nature has provided a true scavenger hunt for some of the prettiest fowl.
Note: Always check hours and openings, as many parks and outdoor spaces close due to seasonality and weather.
1. The South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center
South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center has more than 3300 feet of bayfront boardwalks. / Photo courtesy of South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center
Where: South Padre Island, Texas
What: In the Lone Star State, this is where you want to go birding. Known as the Rio Grande Valley's premier destination for birdwatching, find five bird blinds, more than 3,300 feet of bayfront boardwalks, birding tours and a gift shop. Plus, there is an auditorium showing a short Richard Moore documentary movie about the wildlife of South Padre Island; a five-story tower with spectacular views of Laguna Madr; the beaches & dunes of South Padre Island; the Gulf of Mexico; and the South Padre Island Skyline.
How much: Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for students age 13-18 and seniors age 55 and older; and $3 for children age 4 to 12. Children under age 4 get in for free.
Information: 6801 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597.
Information: Call 956-761-6801 or visit www.southpadreislandbirding.com
2. Alabama Birding Trails
This beautiful photo was captured in James D. Martin Wildlife Park in Gadsden, Alabama. / Photo courtesy of Joe Watts
Where: Alabama (see website for specific locations, as well as maps)
What: Get to Alabama and you can find a great place to bird watch almost anywhere in the state. With 270 sites covering Alabama from the swamps of South Alabama to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, public watching sites are easy to find. In fact, more than 430 different bird species have been spotted in the state.
How much: Pending location
3. America's Wetland Birding Trail
Where: Throughout Louisiana
What: Through field of cotton, gator-filled swamps and deep pine forests, bird watchers will find a haven in Louisiana. The America's Wetland Birding Trail, made up of 115 bird watching sites crossing through 22 Louisiana parishes along the Louisiana Great Gulf Coast, outlines the best bird watching in the state.
How much: Pending location
4. Everglades & Dry Tortugas National Park
Where: Homestead, Florida (about an hour south of Miami)
What: More than 1 million people visit this park, which is the second largest national park in the contiguous United States, per year. Clearly, it’s a nature lover’s gem. Birding in the Florida Everglades is some of the best in the country, seeing that you might see as many as 300 bird species. Birding season peaks from December to March, offering views of shorebirds, sandpipers, ospreys, egrets, pelicans and bald eagles.
How much: $20 for a private vehicle; $15 for a motorcycle; and $8 per pedestrian. Passes are extended depending on which one you choose and senior rates are available.
Information: (305) 242-7700 or www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm
5. Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge
Where: Tishomingo, Oklahoma
What: This is no new bird-watching spot. The Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1946 for migratory waterfowl in the Central Flyway. This 16,464-acre refuge offers of hiking, nature trails, hunting and fishing from dawn to dusk. Plus, the Cumberland Pool makes up a quarter of the refuge and is a great place for wildlife watching. Due to the recent harsh rains, the refuge has been closed on and off. Please call before visiting to ensure it is open, as the weather has required closure when it normally is open.
How much: Free Admission
Information: (580) 371-2402 or www.fws.gov/refuge/tishomingo
Vacationing is one thing, but living among beautiful birds is another. If you're looking for land to live in your own bird sanctuary, take a look at rural land for sale throughout the South in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on the Raydient Places + Properties website. Raydient is Rethink:Rural's parent company.
Photo at top of article courtesy of Everglades & Dry Tortugas National Park.