Anne Miller, founder of the Alabama Wildlife Center receives Alabama Audubon’s Yellowhammer Award

Anne with her niece Eva Ledvina. Photo by Matt Hunter

Whenever I visit the Alabama Wildlife Center to see the orphaned baby birds or a majestic red-tail hawk, I think of Anne Miller, the Center’s founder and first director.

Anne is a Birmingham original.

More than 40 years ago she established the center and worked tirelessly as its CEO for 30 years.

Under her guidance, in those early years, the Alabama Wildlife Center became our wildlife’s equivalent of a UAB Hospital and Lakeshore Foundation all rolled into one.

Baby Barred Owls at the Alabama Wildlife Center. Photos from the Alabama Wildlife Center Facebook page

Today, the Alabama Wildlife Center, which has been headquartered at Oak Mountain State Park since 1987, takes care of 2000 birds a year and is a magnet for animal lovers everywhere.

What a legacy.

Yellowhammer Award

This year’s Yellowhammer Award was designed by UAB Bloom Studio student Sophie McVicar. Photo courtesy of Alabama Audubon

And now, thanks to Alabama Audubon, Anne’s work with the Center and her lifetime devotion to our feathered friends has been recognized. 

Last month, the organization presented her with the Alabama Audubon Yellowhammer Award, an honor that recognizes members who have gone above and beyond to promote conservation and a greater knowledge of birds, their habitats, and the natural world. The honoree embodies the spirit of Alabama Audubon, whose passion and hard work on behalf of bird conservation have made a lasting impact. 

A Little Alabama Audubon History

Alabama Audubon on the Black Belt Birding Tour summer 2019. Photo from Alabama Audubon Facebook page

Formerly the Birmingham Audubon Society, the newly named Alabama Audubon was informally organized in the late 1930s in Birmingham and officially incorporated in 1946. A chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Birmingham-based group also operates independently as a non-profit and is considered one of the most active and dynamic bird conservation groups in the U.S.

Committed to New Birders

Yellowhammer Award winner Anne Miller. Photo courtesy of Alabama Audubon

Committed to bringing younger people into the world of  birding, Joe Watts, former Board President and now Vice President of Programs described Anne’s passion for birds and the next generation.  

“I first met Anne around twenty years ago and then again ten years ago. Our first meeting was uneventful, but I distinctly remember the second meeting. We were in a large room in Montgomery, and I was leading a meeting. She was sitting with another Audubon member, and they had multiple questions about how the work we were doing would involve birds, and particularly, how it would involve the birding community.

Photo via Alabama Wildlife Center

I’ve loved her ever since. She’s been active with the field trips committee for years, leading outings and going on many that she doesn’t lead. She’s been a tireless advocate for bringing new birders into the fold, and she’s quick to share her spotting scope with a stranger just so they can see a distant shorebird.”

After Alabama Wildlife Center

Members from Alabama Audubon on a field trip around 3 of Birmingham’s parks. Photo from Alabama Audubon’s Facebook page

Since she retired from the Alabama Wildlife Center in 2008, Anne has remained active with Alabama Audubon and various birding groups. 

Recently, she completed a two-year term as President of the Alabama Ornithological Society and is an active member of the AOS board of directors. She currently serves on the Field Trips and Programs committees for Alabama Audubon, and in 2019, she joined the adult course faculty teaching both in-person and online courses about topics ranging from using eBird for community science to helping baby birds.

A Prestigious Group

Photo of Greg Harber teaching birding at Caldwell Park to a young student. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Anne joins Greg Harber and Elberta Reid as the first recipients of the Yellowhammer Award. 

“We at Alabama Audubon are so grateful for all she has done for our organization and on behalf of birds and bird-lovers in our state,” said Sarah Randolph, Alabama Audubon’s Outreach & Communications Director. “Anne truly encompasses what it means to be a conservationist, and it’s a privilege to know her and to have the honor of presenting her with this award.”

Want to follow in Anne Miller’s footsteps and  learn more birding in Birmingham? Visit the Alabama Audubon today!

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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