Greg D. Jackson, Collin Stempien, Lawrence F. Gardella, and John A. Trent, Regional Editors
From undulating Appalachian foothills in the northeast, west to the mighty Mississippi River, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, this region offers a wide diversity of habitats. More than 250,000 miles of freshwater streams and 64,000 square miles of forested land support over 450 bird species.
Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, Belle Fontaine Beach, and other migrant traps along the outer coast provide for trans-Gulf migrants a first respite in the spring and a last feeding opportunity in the fall. Coastal barrier islands, beaches, and expansive salt marshes are rich in birdlife year-round. The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (the “Delta”) supports approximately 40 percent of Mississippi Flyway waterfowl in winter, is home to large numbers of wading birds in summer, and is a conduit for many migrants. Winter is also peak time for our smallest feathered visitors: 14 species of hummingbird have been documented in the region.
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in the Tennessee River Valley of north Alabama is famous for large winter waterfowl populations; the refuge has recently become a major wintering area for over 15,000 Sandhill Cranes, as well as several Whooping Cranes from the migratory repatriation program. Large reservoirs along the Tennessee River in north Alabama and several additional man-made inland lakes in Mississippi are well-known to birders seeking waterfowl and gulls. A new set of “inland seas” provided by the large catfish industry in both states attracts many waterbirds and waders.
During the breeding season, extensive hardwood and coniferous forests support a rich assemblage of nesting species. Pine woodlands managed with regular use of prescribed fire are home to Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman’s Sparrow. The songs of Swainson’s Warbler rings out from dense bottomland forests. Hills and mountains of the north are fertile breeding grounds for many boreal–neotropical migrants, including Cerulean Warbler.
The ABA gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Alabama & Mississippi Regional Editors Greg D. Jackson, Colin Stempien, Lawrence F. Gardella, and John A. Trent to promoting knowledge and understanding about the birdlife of the continent.