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Dauphin Island, AL
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Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary


Early History.....     Although first colonized in the 1600s, it was not until 1954 that a 3 1/2mile bridge was built connecting Dauphin Island to the mainland. During this development phase, the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board was created to provide recreation opportunities for the citizens of Alabama. The sand dunes covering the walls of Fort Gaines were excavated, the Campground was established, fishing piers built and beach and picnic park developments begun.

During this time period, Dr. Wilson Gaillard, an avid birder and conservationists, recognized the need to create an Island refuge to protect the natural ecosystem as well as provide safety and resources for the incredible numbers of migrating birds and butterflies on their twice annual passages. The Board of Directors (Sidney Pfleger- Chairman) of the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board were immediately receptive to this idea, and selected perhaps the most beautiful parcel of land on the Island. More importantly, the 164-acres would include the widest possible range of habitats from a fresh water lake, Gulf beaches, swamp, pine forest, dune system and hardwood clearings.

Audubon Partnership....     This "Bird Sanctuary", as it was known, was established in 1961 by the Park and Beach Board. In 1967, the Park and Beach Board enhanced the status of the Sanctuary by entering into a formal agreement with the National Audubon Society, so that it was officially included as part of the national system of Audubon wildlife sanctuaries.

Dauphin Island - a Sanctuary....     As the years passed, there was a growing awareness of Dauphin Island's unique location and resources related to the spring and fall migrations. For example, one of the first acts when the Town of Dauphin Island was created in 1988, was to designate the entire Island as a Bird Refuge. Recognition and expert advice were increased for the site in 1992 by the creation of the nonprofit Friends of the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary, Inc.

Although the Park and Beach Board has sole responsibility for the Sanctuary, including maintenance and improvements, the partnership with National Audubon, the Friends of the Sanctuary, and others, has produced an ideal situation protecting the needs of wildlife and the interests of the general public.

In the Sanctuary....     In the last few years alone, a 1000-foot handicap access boardwalk from the parking lot to "Gaillard Lake" has been constructed along with a beautiful lake pier. The trail system has been enlarged and a raised walkway through the Tupelo swamp created. A ground breaking grant from the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program was secured to reverse the spread of Cogan Grass and reestablish native vegetation. (Note: besides their efforts with the Sanctuary, the Friends also have an excellent project purchasing undeveloped lots on the Island to insure they remain wildlife refuges- contact them for further information) Due to the dedication of those named, as well as the Coastal Programs Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the future of this incredible site has never been brighter. It is one of the featured attractions of the new Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and a separate project will implement an extensive nature interpretive sign system along the paths.

Strategic Importance....     Wild Bird Magazine recently selected Dauphin Island as one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring migrations! It has also been sited as one of the ten most globally important sites for bird migrations.
The Sanctuary consists of 164 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp and a beach. It is located at the Eastern end of Dauphin Island, a 14 mile-long barrier island situated off the Alabama Gulf coast. The Sanctuary is of vital importance because it is the largest segment of protected forest on the island

and the first landfall for neotropical migrant birds after their long flight across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring. Here these birds, often exhausted and weakened from severe weather during the long flight, find their first food and shelter. It is also their final feeding and resting place before their return flight each fall.

Habitat Description....     The dominant trees in the maritime forest are longleaf and slash pine, southern magnolia, live oak, and tupelo gum. A transition zone of white sand dunes separates the forest from the beach. Sea oats cover the dunes, giving way to a sparse covering of pines, scrubby oaks, seaside goldenrod, and lichens. Gaillard Lake, approximately four and a half acres in size, lies at the southern edge of the pine woods and is borderd by tall pines on the north and west, and by a tupelo swamp on the east and south. Alligators may be seen in the lake.

Friends of Dauphin Island Audubon Sanctuary....     Formation of Friends. In 1992 the National Audubon Society sought local support in maintaining their lease with the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board for the Sanctuary. With the help and financial support of the Alabama Audubon Council, the Friends of Dauphin Island Audubon Sanctuary, Inc. was created as a nonprofit corporation to provide financial support and to take an active role in managing the Sanctuary. In 1997 the Park and Beach Board assumed responsibility for the management of the Sanctuary. The Friends continue to work with the Board in protecting the Sanctuary and managing it as a stopover habitat for neotropical migrants.

Purpose of Friends....     The protection, maintainance, and improvements the Sancturay. The are actively involved in acquiring additional neotropical migrant habitat, both on the island and elewhere. Work to promote knowledge of, and appreciation for, all wildlife.

Gulf Coast Bird Observtory Initiatives....     Efforts are underway to preserve similar areas of vital coastal habitat along the entire perimeter of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory was initiated by a unique partnership including Huston Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancies of Texas and Louisiana, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Department, Amoco Production Co. , Phillips Petroleum Co., and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Observatory's mission, conservation of migratory birds and their habitat, works under the umbrella of Partners in Flight- Aves de las Americas, an international cooperative effort working to reverse declining population trends in birds. The Friends have joined as Site Partners in the Observatory's efforts to secure protected stopover habitat for nearctic-neotropical migratory birds, joining with other coastal site partners in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico.

Dauphin Island
Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Provided and Maintained by
the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board

109 Bienville Blvd
Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528
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