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Elevations rise to 1,800 feet (550 metres) in the more rugged eastern portions.The Great Appalachian Valley forms another marked division to the east.Muscadine and scuppernong grapes and blackberries also flourish.Beardlike Spanish moss grows in the coastal woodlands. Bluebirds, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, doves, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, yellow-shafted flickers (called yellowhammers in Alabama), and an occasional eagle are found here.Most of the thick forests are in the north and northeast.Pine trees predominate, and live oaks are also found statewide, adding character to the streets of the older towns and cities.
The Florida panhandle blocks Alabama’s access to the Gulf of Mexico except in Alabama’s southwestern corner, where Mobile Bay is located. In northeastern Alabama the broken terrain of the southwestern fringe of the Appalachian Mountains begins and continues in a southwesterly progression across the northern half of the state.The rest of the state is drained southward through broad valleys.The Coosa and the Tallapoosa rivers join north of Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which meanders southwestward until it connects with the Tombigbee River, which drains the state’s western portion.A small triangular portion of the Piedmont Plateau juts across from Georgia at an elevation averaging 1,000 feet (300 metres).The character of the state changes markedly as the rugged, forest-clad hills and ridges of the Appalachian extremities give way to the lower country of the coastal plain.