The Wiregrass Birding Trail will officially launch on November 2, 2012, in Eufaula, Ala. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for noon at the trailhead of the Yoholo Micco Trail in the heart of downtown Eufaula. The newly-developed trail of 20 sites is one of eight organized birding trails covering Alabama. The 10 counties included in the Wiregrass Birding Trail are Barbour, Bullock, Pike, Crenshaw, Covington, Coffee, Dale, Henry, Geneva and Houston.
Nov. 2 events include the ribbon-cutting, an adult bird walk, children’s activities led by Amber Dunn, Regional Extension Agent for 4-H for Barbour County, and an expo given by hummingbird expert Fred Bassett. Additional activities include birding art on display at the James S. Clark Center by the “Art Scene,” a coloring contest for grades three to five in Eufaula City Schools, Barbour County Schools, Lakeside School and the TEACH program for home schools. A highlight will be a raptor trek presentation by 4-H Program Coordinator Becky Collier that includes a bald eagle and other birds of prey. All activities are free.
The regional nature of the birding trail will be celebrated with a free group birding tour at 3 p.m. in nearby Midway, Ala., at the Wehle Center. This location provides excellent birding opportunities. The tour, which will be led by John Trent of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, will start at the main gate of the Wehle Center on Bullock County Road 47.
An ongoing project for over five years, the Wiregrass Birding Trail development has coincided with birding becoming an increasingly important source of tourism revenue for Alabama. Birding has seen significant growth both nationally and in Alabama over the past several years.
Birding trails are not only a valuable means of attracting more visitors to Alabama, but are also a great educational resource for students and an opportunity for inexpensive family outings. Schools can use the trail sites for field trips and families can visit on weekends or holidays.
Alabama has one of the most diverse habitats in the Southeast, with a tremendous range of birds that can be seen in the state and on the Wiregrass Birding Trail.
The Alabama Birding Trails Project is funded by the Alabama Tourism Department, with technical assistance from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Birmingham Audubon Society, The Alabama Ornithological Society and local leaders within each region. The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UCED) is providing project management and oversight. The Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce is the lead project manager for the Eufaula Birding Trail sites.