Biodiversity of Hugh Kaul Ecoscape

- Photo Credit: Francesca Gross
- Photo Credit: Francesca Gross

Even though it’s in the middle of an urban college campus, the Southern Environmental Center’s Hugh Kaul EcoScape offers an astounding example of Alabama’s native biodiversity. In the small park – once a dumping ground and former gas station – a visitor can start in the Mobile River Delta and follow an Alabama River trail past Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) and Lantana (Lantana camara) to an Appalachian trail walk. There are dozens of species of native plants, including: Southern Blazing Star (Liatris squarrulosa), Cream Wild Indigo (Baptisia bracteata), Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virigiana), Pale Purple Coneflower, (Echinacea pallida), Silk Grass (Pityopsis graminifolia), Starry Rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus), Tall Ironweed (Veronia gigantean) and Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). In addition, at least 111 bird species have been recorded inside the Ecoscape. Since the forested portion of the site has remained mostly unchanged in the last 50 years, it provides a valuable patch of habitat in the middle of the city. Birds frequently spotted in the park include:  Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis), Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea), Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), and Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). Less-frequent sightings include Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Barred Owl (Strix varia), Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Brown Creeper (Certhia americana), and migrating birds such as American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), and Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum).