Alabama State Bird: Description, Pictures, & Fun Facts

Alabama State Bird - Northern Flickers

Table of Contents

What is Alabama State Bird?

Alabama is a diversified state with diverse landscape, characterized mostly by mountain ranges. It is the 30th biggest state in terms of land area and the 24th most population. Alabama’s official animal is the Black Bear, but what is the Alabama state bird?

In 1927, Alabama designated the northern flicker, popularly known as the yellowhammer (Colaptes auratus), as its state bird. To depict the look of this Alabama woodpecker, the bird is also known as the yellow-shafted flicker.

Alabama State Bird - Northern Flickers

Why is Northern Flickers Alabama State Bird?

The yellowhammer state, as Alabama became known, got its moniker from the abundance of its state bird. The migratory bird picked the state as one of its second homes. The statute designating it as the official state bird did not explain why. Section 1-2-7 of Chapter 2 of Title 1 of the Alabama Code of 1975 simply states, “The bird widely known as the yellow-hammer is now recognized as the state bird.”

When did Northern Flickers become Alabama State Bird?

The northern flicker was formally designated as Alabama’s state bird in 1927. Later, legislation in 1980 designated the eastern wild turkey as a state game bird.

Alabama State Bird - Northern Flickers
What does Alabama State Bird look like?

When you encounter a male yellowhammer, you’ll recognize him because he has a moustache. This medium-sized bird has greyish brown plumage with black accents. The underwings of the woodpecker are yellow. This bird’s female has a neatly shaved appearance.

The northern flicker grows to 4.7 to 5.5 inches in length from head to tail, with a wingspan of 17 to 21 inches. These birds stand 11 to 14 inches tall and weigh 3 to 6 ounces, which is little more than typical songbirds.

How do Alabama State Bird behave?

The northern flicker is found across the United States. There are two subspecies of flickers in the United States: In the west, there are red-shafted flickers, while in the east, there are yellow-shafted flickers. While it is uncommon, these two subspecies have been seen interbreeding.

Yellowhammers remain busy throughout the day, perching atop bushes to sing melodies like “a little piece of bread and no cheese.” When not breeding, these birds eat in large groups on the ground.

Hundreds of birds, including finches, buntings, and finches, may be found in a flock. These birds communicate by speaking to one another. These bird cries are taught to yellowhammers by their dads in a particular dialect.

Yellowhammers that live outside of Alabama speak a distinct dialect from those who live in Alabama. These bird sounds may contain song versions and individual cries, but there are certain general terms, such as “zit” for contacting another bird, “see” for sounding an alarm, and a trilled “tirrr” while in flight.

Language fluency aids males in attracting suitable partners. The silver-tongued speakers mate with females who speak the same dialect, with the females preferring males with the most diversified singing and speaking repertoires.

These partly migrating woodpeckers build their nests in open places in trees. They choose soft wood trees that are withering or dead. Their feeble beaks are capable of pecking a nest in soft wood. If a yellowhammer discovers a vacant burrow or hole dug by another bird, it may live in it.

They will also build a nest in a fence post, earthen bank, or a nest box stored in the yard of a kind human. The northern flicker lives in Alabama all year, but its population has plummeted owing to pesticide usage and the loss of eastern woodlands.

Alabama State Bird - Northern Flickers
Do Northern Flickers form communities?

Yellowhammer monogamous couples develop and defend a defined breeding territory. The male establishes a territory at the edge of a woodland or along a hedge. Courtship usually starts in April or May, with the man serenading his potential wife from a shrub or tree, although it might last until July or August.

The yellowhammer will also employ physical displays of manliness to entice a female. While racing towards her, he extends his wings. Once he has won her heart, the female starts to construct their nest.

While they dwell in trees, these birds construct a literal love nest on or near the ground. They conceal their love nest under a shrub or tussock. It might also be against a financial institution.

The female combines plant components such as stalks, dried grass, and leaves with animal fur. She lines the interior of the nest with fine grasses.

The yellowhammers then reproduce. She will lay between three and five eggs. The mother bird incubates these white eggs with black, thin markings for 12 to 14 days.

When their small downy chicks hatch, the two adult birds care for them until they become fledglings around two weeks later. The adults feed the nest’s offspring. Each year, the passionate yellowhammers have two or three broods.

Their chicks reach breeding age at the age of one year and go out on their own to find their mate and begin producing young woodpeckers.

Alabama is not home to all the United States’ birds. The Carolina wren migrates all the way to Oklahoma, but not to the Panhandle. It is mostly a bird of the eastern United States.

Alabama State Bird - Northern Flickers
What do Northern Flickers eat?

The yellowhammer behaves differently than other woodpeckers. It forages on the ground, eating bugs, nuts, and berries. Ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, termites, snails, spiders, nuts, seeds, and berries are among its favourite foods.

They especially appreciates the poison ivy plant berries, which are harmless to them. Insects may also be caught in mid-flight by the airborne woodpecker. The bird’s long, barbed tongue allows it to suck up many ants at once.

They will also perch above an anthill, causing the ants to climb up its wings. According to one notion suggested by experts, the ants emit an acid that suppresses parasites that would ordinarily want to survive on the bird.

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