With 31,000 acres of parks and wildlife management areas and 525 miles of shoreline, West Point Lake is not only a bird lover’s paradise, it’s a bird’s paradise! West Point Lake is home to a vast array of waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors, as well as a vacation destination for many migratory birds. The lake’s rich ecosystem has produced a diverse habitat with an abundant bird population and a wide variety of species, and has put the lake on the map of two state birding trails, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Southern Rivers Birding Trail and Alabama’s Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail.
Where to Go Birding
Hardley Creek Park. Hardley Creek Park is a Chattahoochee River overlook located at the base of West Point Dam that provides birders with a broad spectrum of birding experiences. This location attracts a variety of both local and migratory species, and is notable for easy-to-see winter gulls, loons, grebes, and terns. Bench seating overlooks a rocky outcropping below the damn, a popular location for sunbathing cormorants. A large population of Canada geese and mallard ducks also occupy the area, and can be watched swimming in the pond within the park.
Beaver Lodge Nature Trail. Beaver Lodge Nature Trial, located within Amity Park, is a half-mile wooded trail that loops a swamp with wetlands vegetation, a wonderful demonstration of West Point Lake’s ecosystem. The trail features duck, owl, and bluebird nest boxes and two boardwalks that extend across the swamp, allowing for ample viewing of marsh vegetation and wildlife. There are four benches located along this trail. Approach the boardwalks quietly and you may see wood ducks, great egrets, great blue herons, and more. This trail is located at the end of the one-mile Alligator Creek Nature Trail. If you are a camper at Amity Campground, you can access Beaver Lodge Nature Trail from behind the tennis court.
Alligator Creek Nature Trail. Alligator Creek Nature Trail is a 2-mile round-trip trail that leads to a swamp at Beaver Lodge Nature Trail. Alligator Creek Nature Trail is a wide, wooded trail that features 27 acres of mixed pines and hardwoods. Birds to be found along this trail are the common yellowthroat, swamp sparrow, pileated woodpecker, red-tailed hawk, and the great horned owl. And although you may not see them, you may hear screech owls during evening hours. Picnic tables are located about one-quarter of a mile into the trail, bench seating halfway through the trail, and pavilion seating about three-quarters of the way into the trail. These seating areas provide views of the lake, and are ideal locations for spotting great blue herons, great egrets, wood ducks, and Canada geese. The trailhead is located on County Road 222, with a second entry at Beaver Lodge Nature Trail behind the tennis court in Amity Park, and a third entry from.
West Overlook. West Overlook is a covered shelter with seating on the Alabama side of West Point Lake that overlooks the largest portion of the lake, and is the ideal location for observing bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, sea gulls, and more. Grab your binoculars and sack lunch and make a day of it.
Under Bridges. Kayak or canoe under the lake’s bridges during the spring and summer months and you’ll get a close-up view of large groups of swallows and their amazing avian architecture and family life. Tour the sloughs and tributaries of the lake and you’ll find great blue herons, great egrets, kingfishers, killdeer, bald eagles, hawks, and osprey. With no loud motors, kayaking and/or canoeing the banks of West Point Lake affords you the opportunity to get close to and observe undisturbed wildlife, birding views you cannot get from stationary locations.
Wildlife Management Area. Location, location, location. Dirt roads, thousands of acres of undisturbed forest with creeks, and over 100 acres of various sized fields makes this location prime real estate for songbirds, grasslands birds, raptors, and game birds – and bird watchers. Residents include the eastern meadowlark, American goldfinch, northern bobwhite, mourning doves, pileated woodpecker, wild turkey, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, and much more.
Each year, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers partners with local volunteers to construct and install Eastern bluebird nest boxes throughout West Point Lake for the Neotropical Bird Monitoring Program. The result of this program fledges, on average, 500 bluebird chicks per year. The public is invited to participate in the annual nestwatch program.
NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program designed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to track the status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, to include when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. The database is used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.
Participating in NestWatch is easy. First, study the NestWatch code of conduct and register with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to become a certified NestWatcher, then find a bird nest, visit the nest every three to four days and report your information online. Your observations will be added to thousands of other NestWatchers in a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds. Simply put, without your help it would be impossible to gather enough information to accurately monitor nesting birds across the country. And while you are contributing extremely valuable information to science, you will learn firsthand about birds, and create a lifelong bond with the natural world.
Submit Bird Sightings
Recreational and professional bird watchers are encouraged to submit sightings of all bird species to eBird, an online database provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. eBird documents the presence or absence of species, with the help of volunteers like you, and presents real-time data, such as Bird Observations at West Point Lake. eBird then shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists.
Nesting Boxes & Platforms
There are hundreds of bluebird nest boxes, owl nest boxes, and duck nest boxes dotted throughout many of West Point Lake’s parks in an effort to increase their population. There are also numerous osprey platforms at various locations along the lake’s shoreline. These man-made nest boxes and platforms ensure safe and secure nesting locations and encourage returning breeding pairs. Join other bird watchers in a “nest box watch.”