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Great Birding Escapes

Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary

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by Bobby Harrison
Photographs by Bobby Harrison

Located along the Flint River in southeast Huntsville, Alabama, the newly established Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary has recently gained notoriety among the local birding community for its variety of habitats and abundance of bird species. The sanctuary spans more than 375 acres of bottomland hardwood habitat interspersed with open fields and farmland.

More than three miles of rustic trails wind through forested bottomlands and fallow fields, taking visitors to borrow ponds, sloughs, swamps, and the banks of the Flint River. The diverse habitat of the sanctuary is home to a myriad of birdlife ranging from waterbirds to passerines.

April through May and September through October are the best times to visit as migrants begin to arrive and pass through the sanctuary. Spring migrants and resident birds begin nesting by mid-April, bringing the forest and fields alive with the songs of breeding warblers, sparrows, and other songbirds. The most famous among the arriving breeding migrants are 13 species of warblers, including the Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler, as well as the bright crimson Summer Tanager. Notables among the resident birds include an abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-tailed Hawks, and Barred Owls.

Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary provides wonderful opportunities to photograph birds and other animals, such as deer, coyotes, and wild boar, as well as stunning landscapes.

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DIRECTIONS

Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary is located in southeast Huntsville, Alabama. From I-65 take the I-565 exit and proceed 16.9 miles to the Governors Drive exit. Go east on Governors Drive (US 431) 11.7 miles to Taylor Lane. Turn right (west) on Taylor Lane for 0.8 miles to Taylor Road. Turn left (south) on Taylor Road, go 1 mile, and curve right onto Terry Drake Road. Go 0.1 miles to the sanctuary entrance on your left.