Alabama Coasting 2019 - Page 14

Welcome to Dauphin Island... Come Bird With Us! Dauphin Island is recognized as one of the nation’s best destinations for bird lovers and the sport of birding. Island birding expert Andrew Haffenden, who leads groups and lectures on the subject, confirms: “Dauphin Island is one of the top four birding areas in the coun- try. We have about 400 species of birds that come here. Most of the birds that come in the spring fly up over the Gulf from the Yucatan. It’s the fastest route, and they’re in a hurry. They want to get to the breeding grounds north of here. They may stop on the island for as little as 10 or 15 minutes, just to rest, or they may stay over- night. They don’t like to fly in the rain, so if it’s raining they might stay three or four days.” Don McKee, a board member of Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, further explains: “After they’ve flown across the Gulf of Mexico, the birds are starving to death – literally. They have got to have food, so they stop here to eat. And they need to rest, too. They are exhausted.” Their worn-out condition can be good for birders, he added, “because they are so tired and so hungry that they aren’t all that concerned about people watching them.” Many birders visit the island with the hope of getting to view a phenomenon known as “fallout.” Fallout on Dauphin Island has been described as having “all the trees filled with birds, like Christmas trees filled with ornaments.” Above: American Avocet. Right: Cape May Warbler. 14 ALABAMA COASTING’S DAUPHIN ISLAND LIFE 2019