The Northern Flicker: Alabama’s State Bird

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The Northern Flicker also known as Yellowhammer is the official state bird of Alabama. With its striking appearance and amazing behaviour, this bird holds a special place in the hearts of Alabamians.

Let’s delve into the remarkable characteristics, habitat, significance to Alabama, and conservation efforts surrounding the Northern Flicker.

The Northern Flicker: Identification and Characteristics

The Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, has a unique type of colour. Its underparts glow with a brilliant yellow hue, while its back and wings sport a stunning mix of brown and black markings.

With a wingspan of up to 20 inches, this medium-sized woodpecker is a magnificent sight to behold. Also, read about the state bird of Arizona.

Habitat and Range

You’ll find Northern Flickers in a variety of habitats, from open woodlands to urban areas, making them a common sight across Alabama.

During migration, these birds cover impressive distances, travelling from their wintering grounds in the southern United States to their breeding territories in Canada.

Behaviour and Diet

Northern Flickers are not your typical woodpeckers. While they can peck on trees, they often prefer foraging on the ground, searching for ants and beetles.

Their feeding habits contribute to controlling insect populations, making them valuable allies in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

If you hear a distinctive drumming sound echoing through the woods, it might just be a Northern Flicker claiming its territory.

Significance to Alabama

The choice of the Northern Flicker as Alabama’s state bird reflects the unique charm and beauty this bird brings to the state.

Its presence connects Alabamians to their natural heritage, symbolizing resilience and adaptability, essential traits for a state known for its diverse landscapes and rich history.

Conservation and Threats

While the Northern Flicker population remains stable, it’s crucial to be mindful of potential threats.

Habitat loss and climate change can impact their breeding and migratory patterns.

Supporting local conservation efforts and preserving natural habitats are essential steps in ensuring the continued thriving of this wonderful species.

Fun Facts

Did you know that Northern Flickers can often be seen as “anting”? They spread ants on their feathers, possibly to help remove parasites.

These birds can produce a unique rattling call, making them distinguishable even by their sounds.

In flight, their white rump patch is quite prominent, creating a striking contrast with their dark wings.


The Northern Flicker, Alabama’s proud state bird, deserves our admiration and protection. By understanding its characteristics, habitat, and importance to the state, we can work together to ensure a future where these magnificent birds continue to grace our skies and enrich our lives. Let’s celebrate and safeguard the Northern Flicker for generations to come.


Learn more about bird conservation in Alabama at “The Alabama Ornithological Society” (

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