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Field Trip: Hayden area and Rickwood Caverns


Male Cerulean Warbler by Greg Harber.

May 7 , 7:00 am 3:00 pm

Pre-registration is required by 12 p.m. CDT on Friday, May 6th.

Registration is now closed. Check out our upcoming events here.

Participants must complete the mandatory online waiver. Please do not request registration for others when submitting your request.

For this field trip we will visit several sites in southern Blount County, beginning our serious birding around a beaver pond just north of the little town of Hayden. We’ll expect a fair representation of vireos and warblers—including common yellowthroat, Northern parula, and quite possibly Swainson’s warbler, summer tanagers, Acadian and great-crested flycatchers, and also Eastern wood pewees. We’ll follow a narrow county road, pass through a one-lane railroad tunnel, and enter into a lengthy second-growth area where we’ll expect to see prairie warblers, field sparrows, indigo buntings, blue grosbeaks and orchard orioles, as well as towhees, catbirds, bluebirds, goldfinches, and soaring hawks and vultures. As we move from the early-successional acreage toward more mature forest, we will hope for typical woodland migrants and breeding birds such as wood thrushes, and magnolia and hooded warblers.

If we venture down US 31 near Blount Springs, the trees along the route often provide sightings of yellow-throated and black-and-white warblers. Pileated woodpeckers may be found at almost any point here. There is a large vulture roost nearby just off I-65, and red-tailed and broad-winged hawks are often found soaring along with both turkey and black vultures.

The plan is to bird “hard” for the morning, break for lunch, and if the birds are still active, pay a visit to Rickwood Caverns State Park (370 Rickwood Park Rd, Warrior). Its mature mixed forest and rocky outcrops tend to act as a decent migrant trap, and a few local specialties breed nearby—including blue-headed vireo.

Park & Ride on Google maps.

The details: Meetup is at 7 am in the back parking lot of the Cracker Barrel Restaurant on Fieldstown Rd (901 Fieldstown Rd, Gardendale). From Birmingham, take I-65 north to exit 271 and turn west onto Fieldstown Rd, then left again into the parking lot. For those joining from north of Birmingham, we will have a secondary meetup at Exit 284 (Corner/Hayden) at the Park & Ride just off of I-65 (note the map to the right) at 7:30 a.m.

Be sure to bring the usual supplies: a full tank of gas, comfortable shoes, binoculars, water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellant, rain gear, and seasonally appropriate attire. In the case of inclement weather, the event may be cancelled. You may contact the trip leader the morning of the event if the weather is questionable.

Registration: To register, click on the button above. If you’re new to our online system and don’t yet have a username and password, simply click the “X” on the pop up and fill out the basic form. If you do have a login, please use it as this helps us tremendously on our end! You should receive an automated email upon registering.

Accessibility: This trip will not involve strenuous hiking. Most walking will be for short distances on level ground and over easy (though unpaved and rocky) terrain.

The food: The plan is to break for lunch perhaps at the Top Hat BBQ, a locally-famous and well-loved establishment noted for its excellent catfish and BBQ. There are other fast food options not too far away or as always, bring a picnic lunch.

The birds: Species we may see on this trip include vireos (including blue-headed), many varieties of warbler (including Swainson’s), Northern parula, summer tanagers, Acadian and great-crested flycatchers, pewees, field sparrows, indigo buntings, blue grosbeaks, towhees, catbirds, Eastern bluebirds, goldfinches, orchard orioles, hawks, vultures, wood thrushes, and pileated woodpeckers.

Trip leaders: Paul Franklin (205-542-7647) and Anne Miller (205-902-1389) will lead this trip. Please contact on the day of the trip only.

Questions? Email the Programs Assistant.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Through more than seventy-five years of conservation work in one of our nation’s most ecologically rich states, Alabama Audubon has seen firsthand how diversity strengthens natural communities. We believe that the same principle applies to human communities, which is why our organization is committed to providing equitable opportunities for all Alabamians to learn about and enjoy wild birds, their habitats, and the natural world. One of the best ways to support that belief is by valuing and actively seeking to strengthen diversity among our staff, our board, and our membership. To that end, Alabama Audubon welcomes the whole of our community to our work, and strives to make our programs, classes, and events open and accessible to all.