Birds in Alabama: 22 Common & Rare Species To Spot Daily

two american kestrels

Last Updated: April 30, 2022

Alabama will amaze you thanks to the Alabama Bird Trail project which offers seven birding regions across the state.

But, you don't have to go birding in a park to see some of the birds in Alabama as they are frequent backyard visitors.

All you need is a bird feeder suited to the visitors you're attracting, seeds and suet, and a birdbath.

The good thing is...

You can set up your feeder on your window or patio to watch bird activity from inside your home. How cool is that?

Common Birds Of Alabama: Species You'll See Almost Daily

Alabama birding trail tours take you to almost 300 locations ranging from coastal loops to swamps and deep forests. Here are some species to see there.

1. House Finch Male House Finch feeding juvenile

This species was common in the western states, but it seems you can now find it in the eastern states except most of Florida. More so, it loves bird feeders.

A house finch has brown streaks and a notched tail. Male and female finches have a few plumage differences. First, the male has a rosy red face and chest. Also, the female has paler brown streaks on the underbelly.

You'll often use the size of the house finch to help you identify an unknown small bird as it's between five and six inches long.

A male house finch will treat you to unending songs when you make your backyard bird-friendly. If you want more finches in your bird feeder, offer black-oil sunflower or nyjer seeds. Finches use both platform and tube feeders.


2. Northern Flicker Northern Flicker perched on grass

If you want to go birding, you can see the northern flicker in Cheaha State Park. But, you can also wait for this woodpecker in your backyard.

It's not a common species in feeders, but it'll show up if your property is near woods or you have an open field with a variety of trees.

It'll come if you're a good host who loves refilling feeders with thistle and sunflower seeds. Also, you can attract a northern flicker using a nest box or birdbath.

The northern flicker is also the Alabama state bird. Did you know that?


3. Northern Cardinal Northern Cardinal rests on a tree during a snow storm

You're likely to see a northern cardinal every time you look at your bird feeders, as it's a common species throughout the year.

This songbird is under 10 inches long, as it grows between 8.3 to 9.3 inches. Therefore, it's smaller than an American robin.

Though both sexes flaunt a stunning crest, the male bird has more striking plumage than the female. When you see both sexes perched on your tube or platform feeder, you'll tell the two apart by the red feathers. The female has a red tinge on its brownish body, while the male has red feathers only.


4. American Goldfinch American Goldfinch perched on a branch

Like the species above, male and female goldfinches also have varying plumage.

A male American goldfinch has a canary yellow body, black cap, and black wings in summer. A female has paler yellow feathers and lacks a black crown. 

Winter molting turns the feathers gray or brown for both sexes though you'll see some yellow feathers on males.

The American goldfinch lives throughout North America. However, the resident population is in the middle states while the breeding range is north, towards Canada.

5. Eastern Bluebird Eastern Bluebird perched on wall

It might be a small thrush, but it has a round head, big belly, and large eyes. The male has a blue upper part and a reddish underbelly, while the female bird has a grayish back with bluish feathers on the wings and tail. Also, a female's underparts have orange-brown plumage.
The eastern bluebird is a resident species in Alabama.
It's larger than a house finch as its length measures between 6.3 and 8.3 inches.

An eastern bluebird eats berries, insects, and worms in the wild. You can draw it to your yard using mealworms.


6. Mourning Dove Mourning Dove perches on branch

You may not see it on your perches as it forages underneath, picking nuts and seeds like the northern cardinal.

You'll see a bird with rusty brown to gray feathers and soft black spots on its wings.

Its plump body and long tail are other ID details worth noting.

A mourning dove measures up to 12 inches long, so it's one of the larger backyard visitors. That's also a good thing as it's easy to spot it from far.


7. American Robin American Robin walking

This bird is a native of North America, with a breeding range in Canada.

It's 10 inches long, with a gray-brown back, rusty orange underbelly, a long tail, and a plump body. An American robin's bill is slender, but it curves at the tip.

It may eat the fruits in your tray feeder or settle for earthworms and other insects on your lawn.


8. Eastern Towhee Eastern Towhee perches on branch

This sparrow prefers foraging on the ground to perching on trees.

You'll see this towhee in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It also loves the edge of the hardwood forests of Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge.

The eastern towhee is bulkier than other sparrows, plus it has a short bill and a long tail. Though it's larger than a house finch, its body measures 6.8 to 9.1 inches long, so it's smaller than a red-winged blackbird.

You'll ID it by its black back and rusty flanks. On top of that, it has a white belly, wing patch, and tail edges. The female has pale plumage that appears more brownish than black.

The eastern towhee loves both hulled and black-oil sunflower seeds. It'll also come to platform feeders with cracked corn or millet.


9. Blue Jay Blue Jay perched on the tree

It's one of the common backyard birds of North America, a favorite for birders because of its stunning plumage and noisy calls.

This bird lives in Alabama all year round, and it's between 13 and 17 inches long.

A blue jay has an upright crest, a long bill, and a bluish-gray back. Its underbelly and wing patches are white, and its neck collar is black. Have you seen such a bird in your backyard?

However, watch out if smaller birds come to your feeder, as blue jays are bullies. They gulp seeds and fly away to stash them somewhere.


10. Chipping Sparrow Adult Chipping Sparrow perched on a branch

You're likely to see a chipping sparrow in your backyard in summer when it drops in for bird seeds.

Look out for a bird with a rusty crown and a streaked back contrasting a gray belly.

This ground-feeding bird sings from the canopy of small trees. You can entice it by scattering seed mixes in your yard or offering black-oil sunflower seeds in a feeder.


11. Downy Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker perched on branch

It's another regular visitor across North America. It loves suet but may also feel at home when there's millet, black-oil sunflower seeds, and peanuts. 

In winter, a downy woodpecker can join flocks of nuthatches as a tactic to find food and protection from predators. You'll know this species is around when you hear whinny calls.

It's a small woodpecker that grows between 5.5 and 6.7 inches long; however, its small size doesn't prevent it from drumming trees using its small bill.

A downy woodpecker has the characteristic white, black and red plumage of other woodpeckers.


12. American Kestrel American Kestrel sitting on a branch

This bird's tiny body shouldn't fool you as it's a fierce predator that'll raid nest boxes to eat eggs and nestlings. It's between the size of an American robin and a crow as its length ranges from 8.7 to 12.2 inches.

This species is a resident of most of North America. It's also in some parts of Central America and some countries in South America.

A male American kestrel has a small head, rusty back, bluish wings, and a set of black slashes on its face. The female falcon doesn't have bluish wings. Instead, its plumage is rusty with black bars on the upper parts. It also has a gray crown and a set of slashes on the face.


13. Northern Mockingbird Northern Mockingbird perched on a branch

The melodies in your backyard might be from a northern mockingbird as it's a resident bird throughout the US.
But, even though it's entertaining, it's not so kind to birds that invade its territory. 

Look for a bird with a grayish back, white wing bars, whitish underparts, a long bill, and a short tail. Also, a northern mockingbird measures 8.3 to 10.2 inches.

Even though you may spot these mockingbirds in your yard, they may not come for seed in your feeder. You'll see them on fruit trees.


14. Carolina Wren Carolina Wren perched on the arm of porch chair

This small bird with rusty brown plumage isn't shy. A Carolina wren may come closer to you when you're out in your yard. That's when you'll see the white eyebrow line and the black bars on its tail.

It inhabits the shrubs of southeastern states and part of Central America.

A Carolina wren measures 4.9 to 5.5 inches long. It'll come to your backyard in winter to enjoy suet and shelter in a nest box layered with dried grass.


15. Ruby-throated Hummingbird Ruby-throated Hummingbird landing on top of the tree

The eastern states are the breeding range of the ruby-throated hummingbird. This migratory bird winters in Central America.

You should see how stunning an adult male looks with its bright red throat, green crown and back, and dusty underbelly. The female bird has a white underbelly, buffy sides, and a dusty mask.

Set up a hummingbird feeder with sugar water or plant tubular flowers to attract the ruby-throated hummingbird to your yard.


16. Carolina Chickadee Carolina Chickadee perched on the forest

This chickadee inhabits a section of the eastern states only. Fortunately, Alabama is one of them.

It resembles a black-capped chickadee, and even more interesting is the fact that the two species hybridize.

A Carolina chickadee can use a nest box on your property when you stuff it with sawdust or wood shavings. It'll also stay in your backyard when you offer sunflower seed and suet.

This chickadee is under five inches long. It has a black cap, white cheeks, and a gray back.


17. Indigo Bunting Indigo Bunting perched on a branch

It'll come to your feeder for thistle and nyjer seed to supplement the insects and seeds it enjoys in the wild.

The breeding male has bright blue plumage, while the immature males have blue and brown feathers. The female birds are brown with pale streaks on the breast and a blue tinge on the wings.

The indigo bunting is a common species in the Goat Trees area of Dauphin Island in the Alabama coastal birding trail.

One popular event for birders to explore this region is the Coastal Bird Banding, a partnership between the Alabama Audubon, Mississippi State University, the state lands division, and the Fort Morgan State Historic Site.


18. American Crow American Crow perched on cemetery

Though it's not the best species to attract to your backyard because it loves trash, you'll love seeing an all-black bird picking peanuts strewn across the ground near your feeder.

Don't forget that it eats nestlings and eggs, and the noise from a communal roost might keep you up at night.

You must have heard its cawing call. If you're unsure, the next time you hear a bird cawing, look out for a species with glossy black plumage, a thick neck, a large head, and a short tail. When you see it in the sky, its primary feathers resemble fingers.

You'll see this Alabama bird throughout the year. It's not as large as a raven as it's about 17 inches long.


19. Red-tailed Hawk Red-tailed Hawk on the ground

It's common throughout North America and parts of Central America. The red-tailed hawk loves open fields, and you may spot many perched on telephone poles along the highways. 

This raptor eats mammals, so it's not likely that you'll see it in your backyard unless you have a large property.

An adult red-tailed hawk has a red tail, a white throat, a brown head, a pale back, and a dark belly band. Its wingtips and the edge of its flight feathers are also darker.


20. Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon perched on a stump

This falcon isn't one you'd like in your backyard because it hunts birds. The peregrine falcons in cities hunt starlings, buntings, and thrushes. The ones on the shores go after shorebirds.

A peregrine falcon has barred underparts, a bluish-gray back, thick sideburns, and a dark head.

Juveniles have vertical streaks on their chest instead of horizontal barring.

Lastly, it's the continent's largest falcon measuring between 14.2 and 19.3 inches long.


21. Barred Owl Barred Owl perched on a branch

Unlike other owls, the barred owl doesn't have ear tufts. You'll know it by its dark eyes, a yellow bill, brown feathers with mottling on the back, and dark streaks on its belly.

Its length averages 16.9 and 19.7 inches, so it's larger than a barn owl.

The barred owl inhabits eastern states and Canada. You can mount nest boxes if your property has a mature forest.


22. Bald Eagle Bald Eagle landing on a rock

This raptor is one of the largest birds you'll see near your feeder, as it measures 27.9 to 37.8 inches long.

In North America, a resident population is along the coastal strip, while the other region hosts the nonbreeding range.

It loves small mammals, fish, carrion, and waterfowl. That's why bald eagles live near marshes, beaches, and lakes.

A bald eagle's long and broad wings are such a beautiful sight when you get a worm's eye view. The bird's body is dark brown against a white head and tail. You might see it in Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge from March to August. It's also in Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many bird species are in Alabama?

Alabama Audubon mentions there are over 400 bird species in this state. It's one of the best birding places in the eastern states because of its diverse habitats. For that reason, there's a vibrant Alabama Audubon Society.

What is the rarest bird in Alabama?

The blue-winged teal is one of the rare species in this state. Other rare birds are the rufous hummingbird, lesser black-backed gull, and the Buff-bellied hummingbird. Have you seen any of them?

Watch this video of a Blue-winged Teal adult male:

Final Thoughts

Which Alabama birding trail have you explored so far? If you're still learning bird identification, you can join a birding group to explore parks and trails together. 

For example, join Birmingham Audubon birders in one of their field trips to learn how to identify common birds or bird families from seasoned instructor Greg Harber. Plus, birders get tips on how to attract common backyard birds.

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