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Birders heading to Alabama’s Gulf Coast won’t want to miss the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island. Whether you are spending time camping on Dauphin Island or just plan to visit this beautiful island on a weekend trip, the Audubon Bird Sanctuary is well worth a visit.

The Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island consists of 164-acres of what is arguably the most pristine and attractive parcels of land on the island. This spot was carefully chosen as a sanctuary because it contains an incredibly diverse range of habitats. Swamps and marshes, pine forests, Gulf beaches, dunes and a freshwater lake are all contained within the Audubon Sanctuary.

The habitat allows visitors to see an incredible diversity of birds. You are likely to spot flycatchers, plovers, sandpipers, and terns. Gulls, warblers, thrushes, sparrows, egrets, hawks and hummingbirds are some other birds regularly spotted here. Although migratory birds offer a unique opportunity to view a large number of a variety of birds, birding is spectacular year round at the Audubon Sanctuary on Dauphin Island.

You may wish to pick up a copy of the Birding Checklist Card available from the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries. This lists species reported as seen in various bird sanctuaries and throughout Dauphin Island, including the Audubon Sanctuary.

Although you can have a terrific birding experience practically anywhere at the Audubon Sanctuary, some birds are frequently spotted in certain areas. At the freshwater lake, you are likely to see several varieties of herons, egrets and other waterfowl.

If you obtain a map of the Audubon Sanctuary, you can identify areas classified as swamps. Here you can expect to see birds that feed heavily on insects, such as warblers, swallows and mockingbirds, among others. Along the boardwalk that leads to the dunes area, you are likely to see a variety of sparrows as well as warblers.

Nearly 350 different species of birds have been spotted on Dauphin Island, including both native species as well as Neotropical migrant birds from Central and South America. Following their 500 mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring, Dauphin Island serves as a first landfall resting and feeding ground for weary birds. In the fall, it is their final stop before heading back to their native areas for the winter.

Although the Audubon Sanctuary contains the biggest diversity of habitats on Dauphin Island, there are several other bird sanctuaries located on the island that birders and nature lovers won’t want to miss. Shell Mound Park is a popular place to spot migrating birds as well as a large variety of native species, and Sea Point Saw Grass marsh is a nearby Sanctuary where you can see many rails and small wading birds.