Spring is officially here! Trees and shrubs are putting on their new leaves, warm season grasses are beginning to break dormancy, and many migrating birds have made their trek back to breeding grounds. The displays of spring are all around us, and Alabama State Parks have plenty of sights to see. Have you ever thought about what your favorite spring nature sighting is?

      

Photo Credit: Brittney Hughes, Park Naturalist, DeSoto State Park. The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a native deciduous tree that exhibits beautiful spring blossoms. Be sure to follow DeSoto State Park on Facebook and Instagram @desotostatepark to see more nature photos!

You may have already observed some of the beautiful songbirds in our state as they begin their courtship displays. You may have also noticed that some of their demonstrations seem to be quite defensive toward other birds of their kind. This territorial behavior is often seen as these birds are defending their nesting and mating sites. Not all species of birds exhibit the same level of territoriality – some are trying to exclude other birds from their entire home range while others are just trying to protect a small area around their nest. Birds are often territorial over their food supply as well. Many of you have probably enjoyed watching hummingbirds as they feud over their favorite nectar-bearing plant (or the sugar water in your feeders!). While some of the territorial behavior we see may seem a bit harsh, resources are limited in the wild so being territorial is often important for a bird’s survival and nest success.

How Nature Works: Red-winged Blackbird Display


This video features the territorial behavior of Red-winged Blackbirds. The commentator mentions that these birds migrate from their more southern wintering grounds back to their northern breeding grounds. Please note that these birds inhabit Alabama year-round and can be seen all over the state. They are especially easy to see and hear this time of year because of their territorial displays that accompany breeding season.

While we as parks staff enjoy watching these songbirds with their {sometimes quirky} territorial displays, one of our favorite spring sightings is YOU visiting the parks! With 22 parks boasting cabins, chalets, and cottages along with modern, primitive, and backcountry campsites, there are plenty of places to stay. Similarly, there is no shortage of things to do and see! Come enjoy a delicious meal in one of our restaurants, play a round of golf, hike a trail as the wildflowers begin to bloom, check out one of the new mountain bike trails, fly over Lake Shelby on the zipline, or just enjoy a relaxing getaway. However you decide to spend your visit, we hope you will share your experiences with your friends and family. With so much to do and so many places to stay, there is no need to be territorial like the Red-winged Blackbirds, so be sure to spread the word about Alabama State Parks! As part of Partners Pay the Way, we are proud to introduce the exciting Bring a Friend promotion beginning April 1. This is just one way we can extend our thanks for your support. We hope to see you {and all of your friends} soon!

BRING A FRIEND and GO EXPLORE!