Have you ever participated in a citizen science project which allows members of the general public to become part of a research team collecting important data about our natural world? Each year beginning Deccember 14, the Audubon Society hosts the annual Christmas Bird Count. The event lasts through the first week of January and is conducted in locations across North, South, and Central America. Birders of all skill levels gather to collect data and be part of this ongoing wildlife census which enables many organizations to have useful information which guide conservation decisions. You can read more from the Audubon Society about the History of the Christmas Bird Count.
The holiday season often comes with hustle and bustle that can take away much needed relaxation with family and friends. This article from Children and Nature Network recommends a great antidote to a hectic schedule -- spending time in nature! A short walk in the woods has been shown to have stress-relieving impact along with a host of other benefits.
With the Thanksgiving holiday a couple days away, it is only fitting that Parks Explorer take time to show appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of Alabama. Because of its warm, moist climate and topographical diversity, Alabama provides habitat to the fifth largest number of plant and animal species in the United States. In addition to year-round residents and species that use Alabama for spring breeding grounds, Alabama serves as host to many wildlife species during fall and winter as they migrate to warmer places until spring.
It doesn't take much exploration to realize Alabama is rich in natural resources. The diversity of both plant and animal species is incredible, and can be experienced year round from the northernmost places in Alabama to the Gulf Coast. Did you know there are 420 bird species on the Alabama Ornithological Society (AOS) State List? As we move into late fall, most of the neotropical migrants (e.g. Cerulean Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, etc.) have already departed or passed through Alabama on their journey south. Neotropical migrants are birds that breed in North America and spend their winter in Central or South America or the Caribbean. While we won't be seeing these birds anymore this year...
Alabama State Parks is proud to be a Community Partner of Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. We join with them in their efforts to share the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace in every park across the country. Through educational programs, learning trails, trainer courses, special events, and more, Alabama State Parks is able to highlight what it means to be good stewards of the land.
Temperatures are dropping, daylength is decreasing, and there are fewer hours of sunlight each day. These things trigger the trees to begin making changes for the cooler months ahead. These changes affect leaf pigmentation and cause the beautiful fall colors we see in Alabama State Parks and beyond.
The whooping crane (Grus americana) is one of just two crane species found in North America. As the tallest flying bird in North America, it stands five feet tall and has a seven to eight foot wing span!
Have you noticed the hint of autumn in the air? It is probably safe to say most folks across Alabama breathe a sigh of relief when the weather patterns begin their seasonal shift from summer to fall. These changes signal more than just a break from the heat as many migrating animals begin their journey south. One such critter is the monarch butterfly. These beauties usually pass through Alabama in late September and early October as they head to their wintering grounds in Mexico.
According to the US Department of Labor, "Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." In honor of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, it is only appropriate to pay tribute to the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps and their handiwork in Alabama State Parks.
Alabama is rich with water resources! This state is home to the greatest number of freshwater fishes, snails, mussels, crayfishes, and turtles in the US. With 14 major river basins in the state that can be broken down into over 600 smaller watersheds, good stewardship is crucial to our water resources! The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides a great aquatic education program which shares how we can each do our part to ensure Alabama's water resources are here for generations to come.