Dauphin Island, AL
Archive of Historical Data, Books, Maps
And Other Materials
Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary
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.
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.
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
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
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
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....
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.
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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Good Folks with a Great System
Richard Scott, Pres & CEO