Hi All 😊. For those of you new to us, the North Alabama Birdwatchers Society (NABS) is an informal group that focuses on birding in northern Alabama. We have been around since 1976 and are the only birding group in our area to offer a set of regularly scheduled trips each year. We visit a variety of areas across this part of the state, most of which are included on the North Alabama Birding Trail (NABT, https://alabamabirdingtrails.com/). Each summer, NABS trip leaders get together and come up with a schedule like you see here, which we then post on this website and send out by email to our members. We also now have a Facebook group page, North Alabama Birdwatchers Society (NABS), where we post our trips and where folks can join NABS, post pics, discuss birds and related subjects, etc. NABS is open to everyone, including beginners, and especially young folks with an interest in birds; there are no membership dues. If you show up for an outing, you can consider yourself a member.
The protocol for NABS outings is pretty simple. We convene at the designated time at our meeting spot, from which we’ll either drive (usually) or walk to our birding area. Typically, we hang around for 10-15 minutes after the meeting time before we depart, which gives us a bit of time to work out logistics, talk about where we’ll be going, etc. So, it’s best to be on time, for obvious reasons. Attendees are responsible for their own transportation, although there are usually opportunities to carpool. Depending on numbers attending, carpooling may become a necessity (not likely, but some areas we visit may have a limitation on the number of vehicles allowed).
Our ultimate goal for any NABS outing is to give everyone an opportunity to observe (and hopefully hear) every bird species we encounter. That seldom happens, but we usually get pretty close. Our rules of etiquette are few but the ones we do have are important:
- Be reasonably restrained, as to making noise (no dogs or unruly children);
- While cameras are most welcome, please don’t let pic-taking disrupt the birding (see ultimate goal above);
- Don’t get out in front of the group — flushing the birds before others can see them is not very nice;
- Be reasonably constrained in the use of birdsong apps, pishing, etc. to attract birds, especially breeders;
- Above all, follow the guidance of the trip leader.
By birding with NABS, you’ll have the opportunity to go out with experienced people who are familiar with the places we visit and who love to share their knowledge. NABS can also provide greater access to certain areas where it’s restricted, e.g., driving behind locked refuge gates at Wheeler NWR or visiting the privately-owned Jones ‘Hawk Farm’.
Although the focus is on birds, NABS outings also offer opportunities to become more generally familiar with many of the beautiful and diverse natural areas characteristic of northern Alabama. The places we’ll visit provide excellent opportunities to observe, study and appreciate a variety of flora and fauna, including wildflowers, trees, insects, reptiles/amphibians and mammals. Some NABS regulars have considerable knowledge of these other groups and would be glad to answer questions and provide information during trips.
Most of our trips are on Saturdays, although we have a few Sunday outings during the spring, when migration is in full swing, and have moved a couple of our Wheeler NWR trips to Sunday, in November and January. Please note that we have different meeting times for our trips, depending on time of year: Aug-Oct and late March-May meeting time is 7 am, while Nov-early March trips will meet at 8 am. Generally speaking, birding is best, especially for songbirds, early in the morning during the warmer times of the year, hence the early start times then. Half-day trips are the norm, although some may include extended birding into the afternoon, for those interested. Please note that, although it’s usually easy to leave early, there are a few trips behind locked gates that involve a 2- to 3-hour time commitment (see Wheeler NWR trip descriptions). Bring your binoculars, spotting scopes, field guides, refreshments, bug repellent and rain gear. We seldom officially cancel trips; if the weather is bad (heavy rain) or dangerous (icy roads, severe storms) enough to warrant cancellation, we will send out an email notice.
If we don’t already have your email address, please consider sending it to us to add to the NABS mailing list. We can then email you this schedule, as well as trip reminders, and a few other items of interest.
Send your comments, questions and suggestions to Rufina or Ken Ward (256-837-5646; firstname.lastname@example.org).