Few states can compete with Alabama’s avian richness. Their songs, colors, and habits enrich human lives in ways that no other animal group does, and they provide enormous recreational, economic, psychological, and scientific value. Alabama’s moderate winters and diverse habitats attract and support both winter visitors and summer breeders.
Additionally, Alabama is located along numerous species’ migration pathways, making it a desirable spot to rest and replenish during their lengthy treks between their wintering grounds and breeding areas in North America.
Alabama is home to two state birds. The Northern Flicker (yellowhammer) was a symbol of Southernness during the Civil War, and on September 6, 1927, it was designated the Yellowhammer State Bird. Eastern Wild Turkey was designated an approved game bird in 1980.
The Alabama Ornithological Society currently lists 433 species as having been observed in the state. Within Alabama’s borders, around 158 species are considered regular breeders, approximately 80 species are migrants, and approximately 175 species are categorized as winter residents.
Alabama birds of prey
An osprey is a bird of prey. Owls (Order Strigiformes) and falcons (Order Falconiformes) have similar talons (claws) for grabbing prey and hooked beaks for ripping flesh. While most raptors hunt during the day, owls only hunt at night.
In Alabama, just one eagle species is regularly seen: the bald eagle. Ospreys often mistaken for eagles due to their size and fondness for fish.
The state has two kite species and six hawk species. These aerial acrobats fly down to catch prey in the treetops. They inhabit forested marshes and floodplain woodlands in the state’s south.
The red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, and broad-winged hawk are enormous, broad-winged soaring buteos; the sharp-shinned hawk and Cooper’s hawk are smaller, sleeker, and faster accipiters; and the fast, tapered-winged falcons are the fastest tapered-winged falcons. The red-tailed hawk, Alabama’s most common hawk, prefers open territory and feeds on small mammals.
Alabama has four owl species. This owl’s thunderous call sounds like “three hoots for you, three hoots for you all.” In Alabama, barred owls inhabit moist woodlands, particularly swamps.
Cathartes Aura – Turkey Vulture
Coragyps Atratus – Black Vulture
Pandion Haliaetus – Osprey
Tyto Alba – Barn Owl
Falco Peregrinus – Peregrine Falcon
Falco columbarius – Merlin
Buteo Platypterus – Broad-Winged Hawk
Buteo Lineatus – Red-Shouldered Hawk
Haliaeetus Leucocephalus – Bald Eagle
Accipiter Cooperii – Cooper’s Hawk
Accipiter Striatus – Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Circus Hudsonius – Northern Harrier
Aquila Chrysaetos – Golden Eagle
Buteo Jamaicensis – Red-Tailed Hawk
Bubo Virginianus – Great Horned Owl
Megascops Asio – Eastern Screech – Owl
Strix Varia – Barred Owl
Alabama water birds
Ducks, geese, and swans are all web-footed birds (Order Anseriformes). Due to their relatively lengthy necks and frequently stubby, broad beaks, they are an easily identifiable category. The approximately twenty species that live in Alabama’s numerous ponds, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters are all good swimmers.
Numerous species, such as the lesser scaup, hooded merganser, ruddy duck, and bufflehead, are excellent divers that feed on fish and aquatic invertebrates such as snails and mussels. Others, like as the Canada goose, mallard, gadwall, American wigeon, and blue-winged teal, are scavengers that graze on vegetation and animal life near the surface or by grazing.
Almost all of the waterfowl that visit Alabama are winter visitors seeking refuge from the cold, snow, and ice that plague higher latitudes during the winter months. These migratory normally arrive in the state in late September and October and depart in March and April for their more northern breeding habitats.
Only the wood duck is a year-round resident, although domestic Canada geese and mallards have been introduced and have established themselves as pests in many areas, particularly golf courses and parks.
Backyard birds of Alabama
Birding is a lot of fun in this state, and today we’ll explore some of the birds you might encounter throughout the seasons, how to recognize them, what to feed them, and where they like to hang out when they’re not at your backyard feeder. Small birds are those that are visible at any time of year. Additionally, you can observe backyard birds during the spring, summer, early fall, fall, and winter seasons.
Alabama is home to an estimated 420 species of birds, and while we obviously lack the space to discuss them all, we’ve selected a few to keep an eye out for whether out on a walk or sipping tea on the backyard porch.
Hummingbirds in Alabama
Hummingbirds are fascinating to observe and easy to lure with feeders or flower planting in your yard. Feeders are economical and simple to maintain. Hummingbird viewing may be an exciting and enjoyable family pastime.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is widespread throughout Alabama. Males are easily identifiable by their dark red neck patch and dark greenback. Females resemble males except that they lack the red on their throats and have a paler greenback.
The rufous hummingbird is occasionally seen in Alabama, but it is not as frequent as the ruby-throated hummingbird. The male rufous’s back, flanks, tail, and head are all “rufous” or brown in color. Male rufous hummingbirds, like ruby-throated hummingbirds, have a reddish-colored throat patch, although it is more orange in hue than ruby.
Archilochus Colubris – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Selasphorus Rufus – Rufous Hummingbird
Woodpeckers of Alabama
Woodpeckers (Order Piciformes) are the avian world’s carpenters. Their chisel-like beak and lengthy, barbed, and frequently sticky tongues make them ideal tools for excavating and collecting wood-burrowing insects. Alabama is home to eight species, all of which are year-round residents except for the yellow-bellied sapsucker, which is a winter visitor.
Additionally, woodpeckers use their bills to create cavities for nesting and roosting, as well as drumming, a behavior that both sexes engage in during the spring breeding season to help establish territories and attract mates. The state bird is the northern flicker, often known as the yellowhammer. It enjoys open, park-like places to nest, and it is not uncommon to witness this species eating on ants on the ground. The red-cockaded woodpecker, a native of the Southeast’s longleaf pine environment, is threatened by habitat loss.
Colaptes Auratus – Northern Flicker
Dryocopus Pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker
Melanerpes Erythrocephalus – Red-Headed Woodpecker
Dryobates Villosus – Hairy Woodpecker
Dryobates Pubescens – Downy Woodpecker
Other Backyard Birds
Best Birdwatching Spots in Alabama
Alabama has a diverse natural history, which includes an abundance of birds. As the human population grows, it will continue to exert strain on the habitats required by many birds and other life forms.
Throughout the state, there are numerous great locations for seeing and studying birds. On the Gulf Coast, for example, Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, and other coastal places are popular haunts for birds and birders alike. These places provide the largest variety of species for birders, but due to fast development, they also contain some of the state’s most vulnerable ecosystems and birds.
Like Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary which has 164-acre bird sanctuary located on the eastern side of Dauphin Island, Alabama. Dauphin Island is a declared Important Bird Area and serves as a stopover for birds migrating north which gives place for migrating birds.
Check out this top 5 list of birding spots in Alabama that you can visit.
- Fort Morgan State Historic Site
- Dauphin Island
- Dauphin Island – Shell Mount Park
- Wheeler NWR
- Dauphin Island- Audobon Bird Santuary
Other birds of Alabama
If you have found a bird in Alabama that is not on our list, make sure to upload your picture, description and state where it was found here on our bird identification page and we will do our best to ID it for you. On that page, you can also find some information on how to take the ideal picture of you bird to make the identification easier for us.