A beginner’s guide to birding in Alabama—plus details on a special new event happening this year

Alabama Audubon
Alabama Audubon has field trips + events. (Alabama Audubon)

Did you know that today, January 5, is National Bird Day? We spoke with experts with Alabama Audubon to learn more about birding in Alabama. Keep reading for some insights from Dr. Scot Duncan, Executive Director of Alabama Audubon.

Q&A with Dr. Scot Duncan about birding in Alabama

Alabama Audubon Scot Duncan
Dr. Scot Duncan. (Alabama Audubon)

Q: What would you say to people who are interested in birding but don’t know where to start?

“There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of birding. Some people are very competitive, and some people are very chill. There’s people that try to see as many species as they can in a day or a year. There are some people that practice what’s called slow birding, where you just chill and watch the birds and their behaviors.

It’s a hobby for people regardless of their walk of life or where they come from. It’s awesome because people can engage in whatever way that they want.”

Q: What’s one of your favorite parts of birding?

“It is a lifetime of really cool things to see and learn. So, for example, I lived in the Southeast almost my entire life. I still go out into the area, even areas here around Birmingham, and see things that I’ve never seen before.

You know how fun it is when you’re making a new friend and you’re finding out about books they like or hobbies they like or their experiences? It’s the same way with birds—every species is a new friend, and we have hundreds of species in Alabama. There’s no shortage of fun things to learn about birds that are in your backyard all the time.”

Q: What makes birding in Alabama unique?

“Alabama is covered up with great birds. We have over 450 species that have been seen in the state. Some of those have just been seen a few times from far away, but we have several hundred species that are here either all year long or for part of the year.

Every time you go out, you’re going to see something different—it’s like a little National Geographic expedition. That’s why birders get really hooked on it—it’s one of the reasons why people like to watch sports—is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Q: What about the social aspect of birding?

“A lot of what happens with birding isn’t necessarily between you and the bird. It’s between the people that you meet who are also interested in nature and enjoy ‘nerding out’ on nature and birds.”

Q: What if I’m intimidated by birding? Don’t you need fancy equipment + knowledge?

“There is the stereotype that to be a birder, you have to have some expensive equipment like binoculars. But that doesn’t have to be the case—you can simply go out and use your eyes and ears. There’s even a few folks who are visually impaired and go out enjoy birds just by listening to them or vice versa—people who can’t hear go out and they’re just visual.

Use what you got to go out and see what you can.

Most people have a smartphone these days, and there’s lots of free apps that are out there that can help you identify birds. There are even apps that will listen to the birds around you and tell you what is singing, and then you click on the link and it’ll show you a picture of that bird and tell you a little bit about it.

It’s never been easier to get into birding, and it’s having this huge moment right now.”

Birding events + resources with Alabama Audubon

Alabama Audubon
Alabama Audubon’s events are fun + accessible. (Alabama Audubon)

Even though I’m not a birder, chatting with Dr. Scot Duncan has me wanting to get outside. If you’re the same way, Alabama Audubon has many resources to help you get started. Their event calendar is filled with birding events for every experience level—from field trips to courses and everything in between.

An exciting event coming up for Alabama Audubon is their inaugural Bird of the Year Reveal.

“This is a new program for us where we are featuring one species that spends at least part of the year in Alabama. We pick a species that needs some special love and attention because of conservation concerns, and we’ve hired a professional artist to create an artistic representation of the bird.

The bird species and that work of art will be revealed at our February 2 Bird of the Year event, which is an upscale, ‘creative black tie’ event. It’s going to be here in the Highland Park neighborhood, and we’d love to have people support us and support our work by coming to the event and having some fun with us.”

Dr. Scot Duncan, Executive Director, Alabama Audubon

For more details on this exciting inaugural event, Alabama Audubon’s website has all you need to know.

BONUS: Even more exciting news from Alabama Audubon! They’ve moved into a new office space on Highland Ave in Birmingham, a block away from the popular Mexican joint Rojo. Here are all the details.

Want updates like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter today.

Sarah Gronberg
Sarah Gronberg
Articles: 388