A State to be Thankful For

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Fred Basset tagged the first state record of a White Eared Hummingbird. This tiny hummingbird species typically does not venture into the southeastern United States, but was discovered in Theodore, Alabama on November 9, 2015. When discussing the phenomenon of seeing the bird so far from its normal range in Mexico and some parts of the southwestern United States, Basset said in this al.com interview, “Birds have wings and they don't read range maps.” Just a few days before the White Eared Hummingbird was seen, a White Peacock butterfly was seen in the butterfly garden at Gulf State Park. Kelly Reetz, the park naturalist at the park, discovered it feasting on the lantana in the garden and had never seen this species in the area before. Like the White Eared Hummingbird, the White Peacock does not typically visit Alabama. While these two species may not normally migrate through our area, the rich natural resources of Alabama lands are what will provide them with energy to continue their journeys.  The life history of an animal encompasses all of the processes in its life from birth to death, and migration is a key part of that for many species across all classes of animals. Some migrate short distances while others cross entire continents. Migration requires a great deal of energy to be accomplished by animals, so resources along the way are crucial to their survival. Alabama plays an important role in the life histories of thousands of species each year.

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. While Alabama may only be their seasonal home, its resources are vital to their survival. Without the valuable habitat across the state, including the hundreds of thousands of acres overseen by the Alabama State Parks and State Lands divisions, many of the over 4,500 wildlife species would not have the resources needed for survival. 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. Take time to enjoy the rich natural history of our state by adventuring in an Alabama State Park or on a tract of Forever Wild land.

Go Explore!



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Focus On Nature

Header photo: A great blue heron shows off its plumage for this great photo taken during Focus on Nature, 2014

Alabama State Parks are full of quiet places to retreat from hustle and bustle and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Alabama offers both its residents and visitors opportunities to see an overwhelming variety of plant and animal species. From the foothills of the Appalachians to the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama provides habitat to the fifth largest number of plant and animal species of any state in the United States! In coming posts, we will explore some of these amazing species, and highlight the many Alabama State Park destinations that provide opportunities to explore trails and watch wildlife. There are also exciting events scheduled throughout the year which feature noteworthy speakers and guided activities to help you learn about and enjoy our vast natural resources.

Joe Wheeler State Park will be hosting such an event at the end of February. Focus on Nature will be held February 27 to March 1, and plans for the weekend include field trips and presentations emphasizing nature photography. The weekend will cater to both novice and experienced photographers, and everyone is welcome. You can find more information about lodging and dining packages along with the weekend itinerary at the event’s web page or on Joe Wheeler State Park’s Facebook page.  

Plan your trip today to spend time enjoying the biodiversity Alabama has to offer. Try your hand at capturing a stunning photo of one of the many common species in the park. You may stumble upon a nesting pair of wood ducks or a great blue heron waiting for it's next meal. A whitetail deer may offer the perfect photo opportunity as it browses through the park or perhaps you can capture the beauty of a bald eagle through your camera lens. 

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