Alabama State Bird

Alabama state bird: Yellowhammer

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus

Alabama State Bird Description:

  • Size: 11 to 12 inches (28 - 31 cm)
  • Wingspan: 17 to 20 inches (17 - 20 cm)
  • Weight: 3.88 to 5.65 ounces (110- 160 g)

The Yellowhammer is a medium to large sized woodpecker. It is grayish brown with a barred back and spotted breast and belly. The face and throat are tan and the crown is gray. There is a black crescent on chest and a red crescent on the nape of the neck. The male has a black mustache mark. It has a dark gray bill, dark brown eyes and gray legs. The white rump and yellow under wings are very noticeable in flight.

The female does not have the black mustache mark; all other markings are the same as the male.

Habitat:

The Yellowhammer resides in wooded areas and forest edges with stands of dead trees. It can also be found in cities, suburbs, agricultural lands, residential areas, parks and large gardens.

Range:

The Yellowhammer lives throughout most of North America. It is found from Alaska to Quebec in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south.

Diet:

The prefered food of the Yellowhammer is ants. They also eat other insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, termites, wasps, aphids, beetles, caterpillars and spiders. They will also eat cherries, berries, weed seeds, and acorns.

Nesting:

The Yellowhammer breeds from February to July. It usually digs a hole in a dead tree. The hole is not lined for nesting. The female lays 3 to 12 eggs and both parents participate in incubation which lasts 11 to 16 days. Yellowhammers may produce two clutches per breeding season.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Alabama State Bird:

Alabama, at the urging of its Ladies Memorial Association, voted for the flicker, or yellow-hammer, since the Alabama soldiers of the Confederacy were known as the "Yellow Hammers", the colors of the calvary recalling this woodpecker's striking plumage.

  • The Yellowhammer is one of the few North American woodpeckers to migrate. Many birds that reside in the northern parts of the range will move south for the winter. There are a few individuals that remain rather far north all year around.
  • While the Yellowhammer can climb trees, it prefers to feed on the ground. To feed, it hops around awkwardly in search of its favorite food, ants. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap them up.
  • The Yellowhammer male recognizes the female by sight. Pairs often mate for life and typically return to the same area for nesting, year after year.

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Northern Flickers interesting to watch feed on the ground. Unfortunately not everyone gets to see them. If you are fortunate enough to see them in your yard please tell us about them.

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My Northern Flicker 
I just sent you an email for help identifying this bird and after sending it went on another search for it. It was back today and it is definitely a Northern …

My flickers like to stay for a long time on the deck rail so they can watch the feeder Not rated yet
Of all the birds that visit my feeders, the flickrs hang around the longest. At this moment there's one that's been in the same spot for over 40 minutes. …

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