Guide to last minute holiday gift ideas from Birmingham nature-based organizations

Alabama Audubon’s Alliemarie Humphries holding a banded green heron at Avondale Park in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Attention all tardy Christmas shoppers! Are you looking for last-minute ways to make your holiday gifts this year more nature-based and meaningful?

Below are some holiday gift ideas for that nature lover in your household.

Buy a Car Tag for Christmas

Proposed Alabama Audubon car tag. Photo courtesy of Alabama Audubon

Want to make a lasting positive impact on behalf of Alabama’s birds?  Commit to purchasing an Alabama Audubon car tag for Christmas.  And get this – it’s FREE!

Alabama Audubon needs 1000 auto owners statewide to commit to purchase their “Protect Our Birds” specialty tag.  And here is this best part. If you are short on cash, Alabama Audubon will front your $50 commitment! Learn all the details HERE.

You may ask – why is this an impactful gift? If Audubon reaches their 1000 tag goal, thousands of Alabamians will be able to buy a specialty tag supporting birds. It will provide Alabama Audubon a steady revenue stream for decades. 

Other conservation Alabama specialty car tags available (no commitment necessary) – Cahaba River Society (and boat tags too!), Legacy, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama State Parks and Forever Wild.

Support Our Local Parks and Trails

Birmingham Mountain High Hikers at Ruffner Mountain. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

According to Red Mountain Park, Ruffner Mountain and Railroad Park, they shattered visitation records this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Freshwater Land Trust is reporting many more people using the Red Rock Trail System too.

The influx of more people – which is fantastic – means these organizations need to provide additional security at the preserve and parks. They also need help maintaining the trails and other stewardship efforts at the preserves.

Here is a holiday gift idea. Buy your loved ones and friends “gear” at our many fine local outfitters like Alabama Outdoors and Mountain High Outfitters

Then….

Make those gifts extra special by supporting the 3 Rs – Red Mountain Park, Ruffner Mountain and Railroad Park.  And to cover all your bases, support Freshwater Land Trust (the trails),  Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson. For $100 – you can join 5 organizations. The cost of some good hiking boots.  

Red Mountain Park
Aerial view of Red Mountain Park, Birmingham’s largest public nature preserve spanning over 1500 acres. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

One last Christmas tip about trails. Visit a local bookstore and purchase Tom Spencer’s Birmingham: 35 Beautiful Hikes in and Around Central Alabama.

A Wet Christmas?

Cahaba Lily at the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in 2020. Photo Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you are more a river or stream person, check out Ben Raines’ new book about Alabama biodiversity titled Saving America’s Amazon.  Last time we checked they still have copies at the Fultondale Books-A-Million.

Pair that gift with a membership from our local river protection organizations. Once again – we have 5 groups to choose from. We recommend all of them!  

Birmingham and Central Alabama are home to three riverkeepers – the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper and Cahaba Riverkeeper. They keep our rivers safe through their swim and fish guides and vigilant monitoring and defense of our waters. 

David Zagardo rowing in the “Giant Pumpkin” down the Cahaba River. Photo courtesy of David Zagardo

In addition to the riverkeepers you have the Cahaba River Society and Alabama Rivers Alliance

Memberships make great gifts, but don’t forget to visit each organization’s “gift shops” on their websites. 

 

Perfect Virtual School Christmas Gift

The Ecoscape at Birmingham Southern College. Photo from the Southern Environmental Center

And now something very practical this Christmas for kids stuck at home with virtual school. 

Gift memberships at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Zoo, McWane  Science Center, Southern Environmental Center and Fresh Air Family are perfect for those who might be spending some portion of their winter at home doing virtual school.

kids in the gardens
Photo courtesy of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

And let’s be honest – they are ALL fun too.

Making a Difference

Hope this tipsheet helps you with your last minute Christmas shopping. Think about it, you don’t even have to get in your car and travel to the local mall. Most importantly, the gifts and your support of these local nature based organizations will make this Christmas season meaningful.

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  • 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.