Alabama Bird Identification

Alabama Bird Identification
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website lists 420 species of birds that birdwatchers have a chance to glimpse in the state. The list, composed by the Alabama Ornithological Society, features 178 species that breed in Alabama, with 174 that spend the winter in the warmer climate of Alabama after living in the north in the spring and summer. The birdwatcher in Alabama that possesses a reliable bird guide has a chance to identify plenty of these feathered creatures, as well as the many that pass through during their migration.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Field guide to birds of Alabama Binoculars
  • Field guide to birds of Alabama
  • Binoculars
Step 1
Watch various ecosystems within Alabama for birds of prey. Raptors such as the osprey, northern harrier, American kestrel and peregrine falcon are common in various regions of Alabama. The osprey will always be near water, as it subsists on fish. The northern harrier frequents open grasslands and marshes and flies low over the ground as it looks for animals to eat. Scan the skies with binoculars over open fields and the edges of wooded areas for the kestrel and peregrine falcon.
Step 2
Head to the Alabama coast to find and recognize plovers and sandpipers. The sandpipers typically bob their tails up and down as they look for food on the ground. The American golden plover sometimes sleeps while on one leg much like the flamingo does.
Step 3
Check areas with large numbers of flowers for the ruby-throated hummingbird. This is the only member of the hummingbird family common in Alabama. It has incredible agility and is able to fly backwards as well as forwards. Identify it by the deep red patch on the throat of the male, which contrast against its greenish back and head. It will hover over a flower while drinking the nectar from it with its long beak and tongue.
Step 4
Search the woodlands and edges of open meadows for the bobwhite and the wild turkey. These two game birds are common in Alabama. You may recognize the turkey by its "gobbling" sound and large size as well as the spread of the male's tail feathers. Listen for the call of the bobwhite, a "bob-bob-white" that gives it its name. They often live in groups and scatter quickly on the wing when startled.
Step 5
Watch for the eastern bluebird perched on fencerows and power lines near open farmlands. Look for a smallish bird with a blue back and head but a reddish underbelly. Another commonly seen bird of the open areas in Alabama is the barn swallow, an acrobatic flier that zooms around the sky, busily devouring insects.
Step 6
Look on lawns and in dead trees for the Alabama state bird---the northern flicker. This woodpecker stays mostly on the ground to feed, lapping up ants with its long tongue. Recognize it by its markings. Flickers have a black "mustache" below the bill, a black crescent on the chest, a red mark on the nape of the neck, a white belly dotted with black and yellow on the underside of the wing and tail feathers. This yellow leads to its nickname of "yellowhammer" in the state.

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