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Bird Checklists of the United States

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Gulf Shores, Alabama


Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge was established by legislative act in 1980 to protect and preserve rapidly vanishing coastal barrier habitat. The maritime forests, coastal marsh, beaches and open waters of the refuge provide essential habitat for an amazing diversity of birds. The refuge's strategic location along the flyway of millions of spring and fall migrants, combined with the habitat provided, makes Bon Secour one of the most important refuges in the refuge system.

Ethics for Birdwatching

Take care not to disturb nesting birds. This exposes eggs and young to extreme temperatures and predation.

Disturb wintering wildlife as little as possible, particularly during critical feeding and resting periods. They need all of their energy reserves to withstand the stresses of harsh weather and migration.

Do not litter. Many birds die when they become entangled in fishing lines, 6-pack rings and other trash, or when they mistake garbage for food.

How to use your checklist

The bird checklist was designed to be informative and simple to use. The list is arranged in the order established by the American Ornithological Union.

This checklist includes 373 species of birds and is based on observations by refuge personnel and visiting ornithologists. If you should find an unlisted species, please let us know at Refuge Headquarters. We will appreciate your help in updating our records.


Symbols which appear in this checklist represent the following:

Seasonal appearance

Sp - Spring - March to May
S - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to February

Seasonal abundance

a - abundant: a common species which is very numerous
c - common: certain to be seen in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: seen at intervals of 2 to 5 years
x - vagrant: less than 10 valid records
+ - not recorded on refuge but may occur based on nearby records
* - known or suspected to have nested on refuge or known to nest locally


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Red-throated Loon + - - r ___ Arctic/Pacific Loon + - - x ___ Common Loon u r u a
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Pied-billed Grebe* u o u u ___ Horned Grebe u - u c ___ Red-necked Grebe - - - + ___ Eared Grebe r - + r ___ Western Grebe + - - +
SHEARWATERS, PETRELS Sp S F W ___ Wilson's Storm-petrel + x + - ___ Cory's Shearwater + - + - ___ Greater Shearwater - + x - ___ Sooty Shearwater - - + x ___ Manx Shearwater - - - + ___ Audubon's Shearwater - + - +
TROPICBIRDS Sp S F W ___ White-tailed Tropicbird - - + -
BOOBIES AND GANNETS Sp S F W ___ Masked Booby + r x + ___ Brown Booby x r - - ___ Northern Gannet u r u c
PELICANS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican o r o o ___ Brown Pelican* a c a a ___ Double-crested Cormorant a c a a ___ Olivaceous Cormorant - - x - ___ Great Cormorant x - - x ___ Anhinga* u o u r ___ Magnificent Frigatebird u u u r
HERONS, EGRETS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ American Bittern u - u u ___ Least Bittern* u u u r ___ Great Blue Heron* a a a a ___ Great Egret* c c c c ___ Snowy Egret* a c a a ___ Little Blue Heron* u c c o ___ Tricolored Heron* c c c c ___ Reddish Egret* u u u u ___ Cattle Egret* a c c u ___ Green Heron* c c c o ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* u u u u ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron* c c c r
IBISES, SPOONBILL, STORK Sp S F W ___ Glossy Ibis* o o o - ___ White Ibis* u o u o ___ White-faced Ibis* + o + - ___ Roseate Spoonbill - + + - ___ Wood Stork + o - +
WATERFOWL Sp S F W ___ Fulvous Whistling-Duck x - x - ___ Tundra Swan - - - + ___ White-Fronted Goose - - o o ___ Snow Goose o - u o ___ Canada Goose o - o o ___ Wood Duck* u u u u ___ Green-winged Teal u - u u ___ American Black Duck + - - + ___ Mottled Duck* r r r r ___ Mallard* o o o u ___ White-cheeked Pintail + - - + ___ Northern Pintail u - a a ___ Blue-winged Teal a - a c ___ Northern Shoveler u - u u ___ Gadwall u - u c ___ American Wigeon o - o u ___ Canvasback o - - u ___ Redhead o - - u ___ Ring-necked Duck o - u u ___ Greater Scaup u - - u ___ Lesser Scaup u - u c ___ Harlequin Duck - - - x ___ Oldsquaw o - - u ___ Black Scoter o - - u ___ Surf Scoter o - - o ___ White-winged Scoter - - - r ___ Common Goldeneye o - - u ___ Bufflehead u - - u ___ Hooded Merganser o - o u ___ Common Merganser r - - r ___ Red-breasted Merganser c o c a ___ Ruddy Duck u - u u
VULTURES, HAWKS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ Black Vulture* u o u u ___ Turkey Vulture* u o u u ___ Osprey* c c c o ___ American Swallow-tailed Kite* u r - - ___ White-tailed Kite - - x x ___ Mississippi Kite* u o u - ___ Bald Eagle* o r r o ___ Northern Harrier c - u c ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u - c u ___ Cooper's Hawk* u o c u ___ Red-shouldered Hawk* u o c u ___ Broad-winged Hawk* c o a + ___ Short-tailed Hawk - + - - ___ Swainson's Hawk - - x + ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c o c c ___ Ferruginous Hawk - - - + ___ Rough-legged Hawk + - x x ___ Golden Eagle - - x x ___ American Kestrel c - c a ___ Merlin o - u o ___ Peregrine Falcon u - u o
GALLINACEOUS BIRDS Sp S F W ___ Wild Turkey* + + + + ___ Northern Bobwhite* u u u u
RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS AND CRANES Sp S F W ___ Yellow Rail + - - + ___ Black Rail x - x - ___ Clapper Rail* c c c c ___ King Rail* u o u u ___ Virginia Rail u - u u ___ Sora c o c c ___ Purple Gallinule* u o u + ___ Common Moorhen* c c c u ___ American Coot* c + c a ___ Sandhill Crane - - r r
SHOREBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover c u c c ___ American Golden Plover u - u - ___ Snowy Plover* o o o o ___ Wilson's Plover* u u u - ___ Semipalmated Plover u - c c ___ Piping Plover u - u u ___ Killdeer* a a a a ___ Mountain Plover* + - - + ___ American Oystercatcher* u u u u ___ Black-necked Stilt* u - u + ___ American Avocet u - u o ___ Greater Yellowlegs u u c u ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u u u u ___ Solitary Sandpiper u o u + ___ Willet* c c c c ___ Spotted Sandpiper c u c o ___ Upland Sandpiper c o c - ___ Whimbrel u - u r ___ Long-billed Curlew x x x x ___ Hudsonian Godwit x - + - ___ Marbled Godwit r - r x ___ Ruddy Turnstone u - u u ___ Red Knot u o u u ___ Sanderling a u a a ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper u u u - ___ Western Sandpiper u u u u ___ Least Sandpiper u u u u ___ White-rumped Sandpiper o o o - ___ Baird's Sandpiper r r r - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper u o c - ___ Dunlin c - c c ___ Curlew Sandpiper + - + - ___ Stilt Sandpiper o o o + ___ Buff-breasted Sandpiper o r u - ___ Short-billed Dowitcher c o c c ___ Long-billed Dowitcher u o u u ___ Common Snipe c o c c ___ American Woodcock* u + u u ___ Wilson's Phalarope r - o - ___ Red-necked Phalarope - + + + ___ Red Phalarope - + + + ___ Pomarine Jaeger o - o o ___ Parasitic Jaeger o - o o ___ Long-tailed Jaeger + - - - ___ Laughing Gull* a a a c ___ Franklin's Gull r - r + ___ Bonaparte's Gull u - r c ___ Ring-billed Gull c o c a ___ Herring Gull* u o u c ___ Iceland Gull x - - - ___ Lesser Black-backed Gull x - x x ___ Glaucous Gull x - + x ___ Great Black-backed Gull + - + x ___ Black-legged Kittiwake - - - x ___ Sabine's Gull x + x - ___ Gull-billed Tern* u u u x ___ Caspian Tern* u o u u ___ Royal Tern* c u c c ___ Sandwich Tern* u u c u ___ Roseate Tern x - + - ___ Common Tern* c o c o ___ Forster's Tern* c u c a ___ Least Tern* c u c + ___ Bridled Tern + + + - ___ Sooty Tern + + + - ___ Black Tern c a a r ___ Black Skimmer* c u c c ___ Brown Noddy - - + -
PIGEONS, DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove* u u u u ___ Band-tailed Pigeon - - + - ___ White-winged Dove o - o r ___ Mourning Dove* c c c c ___ Common Ground-Dove* u u u u
CUCKOOS Sp S F W ___ Black-billed Cuckoo u - u - ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo* c u c - ___ Groove-billed Ani - - x x
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl* u u u u ___ Eastern Screech-Owl* u u c c ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Snowy Owl + - - - ___ Burrowing Owl r - r r ___ Barred Owl* o o o u ___ Long-eared Owl - - x + ___ Short-eared Owl - - r r
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Lesser Nighthawk x - - + ___ Common Nighthawk* c c a - ___ Chuck-will's-widow* c c c x ___ Whip-poor-will u - u o
SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Chimney Swift* c u c - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird* c u c - ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird + - + - ___ Rufous Hummingbird x - x x
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* c c c c
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Red-headed Woodpecker* c u c u ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker c - c c ___ Downy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Hairy Woodpecker* o o o o ___ Red-cockaded Woodpecker* + + + x ___ Northern Flicker* c o c c ___ Pileated Woodpecker* c u c c
FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher r + r - ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee* u o u - ___ Yellow-bellied Flycatcher o - o - ___ Acadian Flycatcher* u o u - ___ Alder Flycatcher x x + - ___ Willow Flycatcher x + x - ___ Least Flycatcher u - u - ___ Eastern Phoebe c - c c ___ Say's Phoebe - - x - ___ Vermilion Flycatcher x - x x ___ Ash-throated Flycatcher r - r - ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* c c c - ___ Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher* - - x - ___ Tropical/Couch's Kingbird - - x - ___ Western Kingbird u r c r ___ Eastern Kingbird* a u a - ___ Gray Kingbird* u u u - ___ Scissor-tailed Flycatcher u x u r ___ Fork-tailed Flycatcher x - - -
MARTINS AND SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Purple Martin* a a c - ___ Tree Swallow a r c c ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* u o u r ___ Bank Swallow c u c - ___ Cliff Swallow* u o u - ___ Cave Swallow r - - - ___ Barn Swallow* a u a r
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Blue Jay* c u a c ___ American Crow + + + + ___ Fish Crow* c c c c
CHICKADEES AND TITMICE Sp S F W ___ Carolina Chickadee* c c c c ___ Tufted Titmouse* c c c c
NUTHATCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch r - r r ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* + + + + ___ Brown-headed Nuthatch* c c c c
CREEPERS Sp S F W ___ Brown Creeper r - r u
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Rock Wren - - + + ___ Carolina Wren* c c c c ___ Bewick's Wren r - r r ___ House Wren c - a c ___ Winter Wren r - r r ___ Sedge Wren c - c c ___ Marsh Wren* c u c c
KINGLETS AND GNATCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet o - o u ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet c - c a ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher* a o a c
BLUEBIRDS, THRUSHES AND ROBINS Sp S F W ___ Northern Wheatear - - - x ___ Eastern Bluebird* u u u u ___ Veery u - u - ___ Gray-cheecked Thrush u - u - ___ Swainson's Thrush c - c - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u c ___ Wood Thrush* c u c - ___ American Robin* c r c a
THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird a - a c ___ Northern Mockingbird* a a a a ___ Sage Thrasher - - x - ___ Brown Thrasher* c c c c
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit c - c c ___ Sprague's Pipit + - + x
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing c - c c
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* a a a a
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Loggerhead Shrike* c u c c
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ White-eyed Vireo* a c a u ___ Bell's Vireo + - x - ___ Solitary Vireo u - u u ___ Yellow-throated Vireo* u u u + ___ Warbling Vireo r - r - ___ Philadelphia Vireo u - u - ___ Red-eyed Vireo* a - u - ___ Black-whiskered Vireo o - x -
WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Bachman's Warbler + - - - ___ Blue-winged Warbler u - u - ___ Golden-winged Warbler u - u - ___ Tennessee Warbler u - c - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler u - u u ___ Nashville Warbler o - o - ___ Northern Parula* a u a x ___ Yellow Warbler u - c - ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler u - u - ___ Magnolia Warbler u - c - ___ Cape May Warbler u - r - ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler o - o - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c a ___ Black-throated Gray Warbler + - r - ___ Black-throated Green Warbler u - c + ___ Blackburnian Warbler u - u - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler* c u c o ___ Pine Warbler* c c c c ___ Prairie Warbler* u u u - ___ Palm Warbler u - c u ___ Bay-breasted Warbler u - u - ___ Blackpoll Warbler u - + - ___ Cerulean Warbler u r u - ___ Black-and-white Warbler* a - a - ___ American Redstart* c - a - ___ Prothonotary Warbler* c u c - ___ Worm-eating Warbler u - u - ___ Swainson's Warbler* o o o - ___ Ovenbird c u c - ___ Northern Waterthrush u - c x ___ Louisiana Waterthrush u u u - ___ Kentucky Warbler* c o c - ___ Connecticut Warbler + - + - ___ Mourning Warbler + - r - ___ Common Yellowthroat* a u a a ___ Hooded Warbler* a u v - ___ Wilson's Warbler o - u x ___ Canada Warbler u u u - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* u u u x
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Summer Tanager* a - a - ___ Scarlet Tanager a - a - ___ Western Tanager + - x x
NEW WORLD FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Northern Cardinal* a a a a ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak c - c + ___ Black-headed Grosbeak x - x x ___ Blue Grosbeak c u c o ___ Indigo Bunting* a u a x ___ Painted Bunting* u o u - ___ Dickcissel* u - c o
SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Green-tailed Towhee - - + + ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* a a a a ___ Bachman's Sparrow* o + o + ___ American Tree Sparrow x - - - ___ Chipping Sparrow u o c u ___ Clay-colored Sparrow o - o o ___ Field Sparrow* u o u u ___ Vesper Sparrow u - c u ___ Lark Sparrow o - u o ___ Lark Bunting - x - - ___ Savannah Sparrow c - c a ___ Grasshopper Sparrow o - o o ___ Henslow's Sparrow + - + + ___ Le Conte's Sparrow o - o o ___ Sharp-tailed Sparrow u - u u ___ Seaside Sparrow* u u u u ___ Fox Sparrow o - o o ___ Song Sparrow c - c c ___ Lincoln's Sparrow o - o o ___ Swamp Sparrow c - c c ___ White-throated Sparrow c + c a ___ White-crowned Sparrow u - u u ___ Harris' Sparrow o - o o ___ Dark-eyed Junco o - o o ___ Lapland Longspur - - - + ___ Smith's Longspur - - - +
BLACKBIRDS, GRACKLES, COWBIRDS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Bobolink - c - u ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a c a a ___ Eastern Meadowlark* a a a a ___ Western Meadowlark x - x x ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird o - o x ___ Rusty Blackbird r - r r ___ Brewer's Blackbird r - r r ___ Boat-tailed Grackle* u u u u ___ Common Grackle* c c c c ___ Bronze Cowbird - - - x ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c c c c ___ Orchard Oriole* a u c x ___ Northern Oriole u - u -
OLD WORLD FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Purple Finch o - o u ___ Pine Siskin o - o o ___ American Goldfinch* u o u c ___ Evening Grosbeak + - - +
WEAVER FINCH (Order Passeriformes) Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* a a a a
For further information contact:
                       Refuge Manager
                       Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
                       P.O. Box 1650
                       Gulf Shores, Alabama 36547
                       Telephone: 334/540-7720

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1991.  Birds of Bon Secour National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1991.  Birds of Bon Secour National Wildlife 
     Refuge.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govbonsec.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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