- Associated Press - Saturday, April 15, 2017

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) - Dauphin Island is playing a key role in the life cycle of birds returning to the United States from their winter homes.

The barrier island off the coast of southwest Alabama is where tens of thousands of them make their first landfall each year in April.

Don McKee, a board member of Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, says that after they’ve flown across the Gulf of Mexico, they stop on the island to eat and rest after an exhausting flight.

As birds flock to the island in April and again in October, so do the people who love to watch them. Mayor Jeff Collier says the island is a national hotspot for birding, which is increasingly popular.

McKee said the spring migration usually peaks in mid to late April.

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