Dauphin Island, a 14-mile-long barrier island situated off the Alabama Gulf Coast, has been named one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring migrations. The sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forests, marshes and dunes, including a lake, swamp and beach. Recently, the 3-mile trail system within the sanctuary was designated as a National Recreational Trail. It is located at the eastern end of Dauphin Island. The sanctuary is of vital importance because it is the largest segment of protected forest on the island and the first landfall for neo-tropical 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. Of the 445 species officially documented in Alabama, presently 420 (95 percent) have been observed on the island. It is also their final stop before their return flight each fall. The Audubon Bird Sanctuary has allowed Dauphin Island to be recognized by the National Audubon Society as being "globally important" for bird migrations.
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