Mostly a volunteer-operated nonprofit organization, the Alabama Wildlife Center was founded in 1977 and is Alabama’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation facility. With a dual mission to provide medical and rehabilitative care for Alabama’s injured and orphaned native birds to permit their return to the wild, and to educate people in order to heighten awareness and appreciation for Alabama’s native wildlife, AWC annually treats more than 1,600 native wild birds from over 100 different species. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour of the facility and observe patients via camera monitors or one-way glass viewing windows. Educational programs and tours are available with the opportunity to meet education ambassadors: Coosa the Barred Owl, Ireland the Red-tailed Hawk, Legacy the American Kestrel and Natchez the Mississippi Kite. From the AWC building, a .3 mile hike of Treetop Nature Trail ends with a 750-foot elevated boardwalk that winds through a wooded valley and provides close up views of non-releasable hawks, owls and vultures living in naturally furnished cages. AWC is located in the heart of Oak Mountain State Park and is open every day for visitors 9am-5pm, including holidays. Entrance is free after paid admission to the park.