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. An incredible 347 species have been reported on the island. It is also their final stop before their return flight each fall. The Bird Sanctuary has allowed Dauphin Island to be recognized by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society as being "Globally Importance" for bird migrations.