23 Different Types of Water Birds Found in Alabama

In Alabama, a great variety of water birds can be found, demonstrating the state’s varied habitats and plentiful water supplies.

We will examine 23 Different Types of Water Birds Found in Alabama and emphasize their distinctive traits and habitats in this detailed guide.

The lakes, rivers, and wetlands of Alabama are graced by the beauty and elegance of these avian wonders, which include the recognizable Mallard Duck, the magnificent Great Blue Heron, and the colorful Wood Duck.

Come along on a fascinating voyage as we explore the world of Alabama’s water birds, learning about their fascinating behaviors and the value of protecting their habitats.

23 Different Types of Water Birds Found in Alabama

1-Double-crested Cormorant

The Double-crested Cormorant is a medium-to-large-sized aquatic bird. It has a sleek body, long neck, and a hooked bill. During breeding season, adults develop double crests of black feathers on their heads. They have dark plumage with a slight iridescent sheen.

Habitat:

Double-crested Cormorants can be found near coastal areas, as well as inland lakes, rivers, and marshes. They often perch on rocks, trees, or man-made structures near the water.

Diet:

Double-crested Cormorants primarily feed on fish. They are skilled divers and can swim underwater to catch their prey. They also consume crustaceans, amphibians, and occasionally small birds.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-to-large-sized bird with a wingspan of about 4 feet
Distinct FeaturesDouble crests on the head during breeding season
FlightStrong, direct flight with neck extended
NestingBuild nests in trees or on the ground
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

2-Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is a small duck known for its distinct crest on the back of its head. The male has a black head with a large white patch, a chestnut-colored flanks, and a black and white body. The female has a brownish-gray plumage with a cinnamon-colored crest.

Habitat:

Hooded Mergansers prefer wooded freshwater habitats such as marshes, swamps, and wooded ponds. They are often found in areas with fallen trees or vegetation in or near the water.

Diet:

Hooded Mergansers primarily feed on small fish, insects, crustaceans, and amphibians. They are skilled divers and can swim underwater to catch their prey.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall duck with a compact body and a slender bill
Distinct FeaturesDistinctive black and white crest on the head
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
NestingOften use tree cavities or nest boxes near water
MigrationSome Hooded Mergansers are migratory, while others are resident all year round

3-Black-crowned Night Heron

The Black-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized heron with a stocky build. It has a black crown and back, a white or light gray face, and a pale gray body. During breeding season, adults develop long plumes on the back of their head and neck.

Types of Water Birds found in alabama

Habitat:

Black-crowned Night Herons inhabit a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, swamps, ponds, and mangroves. They are primarily active during the night and early morning.

Diet:

Black-crowned Night Herons feed on a variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, crustaceans, and small mammals. They are patient hunters and often remain motionless, waiting for their prey to come within striking distance.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized heron with a stocky build
Distinct FeaturesBlack crown and back, white or light gray face
BehaviorPrimarily active during the night and early morning
NestingBuild nests in trees or shrubs near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

4-Reddish Egret

The Reddish Egret is a medium-sized heron with a slender body and long legs. It has a shaggy appearance, with long, disheveled feathers on its neck and back. Adults can have two color morphs: a dark morph with bluish-gray plumage and a reddish-brown morph.

Habitat:

Reddish Egrets can be found in coastal areas, including saltwater flats, lagoons, and estuaries. They also inhabit mangroves, tidal creeks, and marshes.

Diet:

Reddish Egrets primarily feed on fish, using various hunting techniques. They may dash, leap, or perform a “canopy” feeding behavior where they spread their wings to create shade and attract fish.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized heron with a slender body
Distinct FeaturesShaggy appearance, long, disheveled feathers
BehaviorActive foragers, using various hunting techniques
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusNear Threatened

5-American Wigeon

The American Wigeon, also known as the Baldpate, is a medium-sized duck with a compact body and a round head. The male has a distinctive white crown and a green patch on its face, while the female has a mottled brown plumage.

Types of Water Birds of alabama

Habitat:

American Wigeons can be found in a variety of habitats, including marshes, ponds, lakes, and coastal areas. They often associate with other waterfowl species.

Diet:

American Wigeons are primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of aquatic vegetation such as grasses, sedges, and pondweeds. They also consume insects, mollusks, and small crustaceans.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized duck with a round head
Distinct FeaturesMale has a white crown and a green patch on the face
VoiceMale produces a whistle-like call, while females emit soft quacking sounds  
MigrationSome American Wigeons are migratory, while others are resident all year round
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

6-Least Bittern

The Least Bittern is a small heron with a stocky body, a short neck, and a pointed bill. It has a brownish back, a buff-colored chest, and a black crown and facial stripes. The male and female have similar plumage.

Habitat:

Least Bitterns inhabit freshwater and brackish marshes, wetlands, and dense vegetation near the water’s edge. They are well adapted to living in dense vegetation and are often difficult to spot.

Diet:

Least Bitterns primarily feed on small fish, amphibians, insects, and crustaceans. They are skilled at capturing prey by slowly stalking or standing motionless and then striking with their bill.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall heron with a stocky body and a short neck
Distinct FeaturesBlack crown and facial stripes
BehaviorWell adapted to living in dense vegetation
NestingBuild nests in tall grasses or reeds
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

7-Sandhill Crane

The Sandhill Crane is a large, majestic bird with a long neck and legs. It has a grayish overall plumage, a bald red forehead, and a long bill. Adults have a distinctive red patch on the crown.

Habitat:

Sandhill Cranes can be found in various habitats, including wetlands, marshes, prairies, and agricultural fields. They often gather in large flocks during migration and breeding seasons.

Diet:

Sandhill Cranes feed on a wide range of foods, including grains, seeds, insects, small vertebrates, and plant tubers. They forage by probing the ground with their bill or by digging in wet soil.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeLarge bird with a long neck and legs
Distinct FeaturesGrayish plumage, red patch on the crown
FlightGraceful and soaring, with outstretched neck and legs
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
MigrationSandhill Cranes are migratory birds, traveling long distances during migration

8-Ruddy Duck

The Ruddy Duck is a small diving duck with a compact body and a stubby tail. The male has a bright blue bill, a chestnut body, a black cap, and a white cheek patch. The female has a brownish-gray plumage and lacks the colorful features of the male.

Water Birds of alabama
Water Birds of Washington State

Habitat:

Ruddy Ducks prefer freshwater habitats such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and reservoirs. They are often found in areas with emergent vegetation and open water.

Diet:

Ruddy Ducks primarily feed on aquatic vegetation, seeds, insects, crustaceans, and small fish. They dive underwater to forage for food, using their wings for propulsion.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall diving duck with a compact body and a stubby tail
Distinct FeaturesMale has a bright blue bill and a black cap
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
NestingBuild nests in emergent vegetation near water
MigrationRuddy Ducks are migratory, traveling long distances during migration

9-American White Pelican

The American White Pelican is a large water bird with a long neck, a massive bill, and a wingspan of up to 9 feet. It has white plumage, black flight feathers, and a distinctive pouched bill. During the breeding season, adults develop a fibrous knob on their bill.

Habitat:

American White Pelicans can be found in freshwater and saltwater habitats, including lakes, rivers, marshes, and coastal areas. They often congregate in large groups and feed cooperatively.

Diet:

American White Pelicans primarily feed on fish. They use a unique feeding technique known as “cooperative fishing,” where they swim together in a line, herding fish into shallow water and then scoop them up with their pouched bill.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeLarge water bird with a long neck and a massive bill
Distinct FeaturesWhite plumage, black flight feathers, pouched bill
FlightGraceful and soaring, with slow wingbeats
NestingBuild nests on the ground in colonies
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

10-Black-necked Stilt

The Black-necked Stilt is a slender shorebird with long pink legs, a long thin bill, and black and white plumage. It has a black head, back, and neck, while its belly and underparts are white.

Habitat:

Black-necked Stilts prefer shallow wetlands, including marshes, mudflats, and salt pans. They are often found in areas with exposed mud or shallow water.

Diet:

Black-necked Stilts feed on a variety of invertebrates, including insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. They use their long bill to probe the mud or water in search of prey.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSlender shorebird with long pink legs and a thin bill
Distinct FeaturesBlack head, back, and neck, white underparts
BehaviorOften seen wading in shallow water, foraging for prey
NestingBuild nests on the ground near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

11-Killdeer

The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover with a brownish-gray back, a white belly, and two black bands across its white chest. It has a rounded head, a short bill, and long legs.

Habitat:

Killdeers can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, fields, pastures, and mudflats. They are often seen in open areas near water.

Diet:

Killdeers feed on a variety of invertebrates, including insects, worms, and crustaceans. They forage by pecking at the ground or wading in shallow water.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized plover with a rounded head and long legs
Distinct FeaturesTwo black bands across the white chest
BehaviorFrequently perform a “broken-wing” display to distract predators from their nests
NestingBuild nests on the ground, often in a scrape or depression
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

12-Mallard Duck

Mallard Ducks are medium-sized waterfowl with a distinctive appearance. The male, known as a drake, has a glossy green head, a white collar, a grayish-brown body, and a curled black tail feather. The female, known as a hen, has a mottled brown plumage, a brownish-orange bill, and a white tail with a blue patch.

Birds Of alabama

Habitat:

Mallard Ducks are adaptable and can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including ponds, lakes, marshes, and rivers. They are also commonly seen in urban parks and residential areas with water bodies.

Diet:

Mallard Ducks are omnivorous and have a diverse diet. They feed on aquatic plants, seeds, grains, insects, small fish, and amphibians. They often feed by dabbling, where they tip their head and upper body underwater while keeping their tail up.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized waterfowl
Distinct FeaturesMale has a glossy green head and curled black tail feather
VoiceMale produces a soft quack, while females have a louder quack
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

13-Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons are large wading birds with a tall stature and a long, S-shaped neck. They have a bluish-gray plumage, a white face, a long pointed bill, and long legs. During the breeding season, they develop plumes on their head, neck, and back.

Different Types of Water Birds

Habitat:

Great Blue Herons can be found in various aquatic habitats, including marshes, swamps, lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. They prefer areas with shallow water where they can wade and forage for prey.

Diet:

Great Blue Herons are carnivorous and primarily feed on fish. They also consume a variety of other aquatic animals, including frogs, snakes, insects, and small mammals. They employ a patient hunting strategy, standing motionless or wading slowly before striking their prey with a quick thrust of their bill.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeLarge wading bird with a long neck and legs
Distinct FeaturesBluish-gray plumage and long, S-shaped neck
BehaviorSolitary hunters, often seen standing still or wading slowly
NestingBuild large stick nests in trees near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

14-Wood Duck

Wood Ducks are medium-sized ducks known for their vibrant and unique plumage. The male has a glossy greenish-black head, a white stripe around the eye, a red bill, a chestnut breast, and intricate patterns on its body. The female has a more subdued appearance with a grayish-brown overall plumage.

Water Birds Found in alabama

Habitat:

Wood Ducks can be found in wooded wetlands, swamps, ponds, and small lakes. They often nest in tree cavities near water bodies, using their sharp claws to climb trees.

Diet:

Wood Ducks are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods. They primarily consume plant matter, including seeds, acorns, fruits, and aquatic vegetation. They also feed on insects, crustaceans, and small fish.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized duck with vibrant plumage
Distinct FeaturesMale has a greenish-black head and intricate patterns on its body
VoiceMale produces a series of soft whistles, while females emit a loud “oo-eek” call
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

15-American Coot

American Coots are medium-sized water birds that resemble small ducks. They have dark gray to black plumage, a white bill, and lobed feet, which are adapted for swimming. They have a distinctive white patch on their forehead.

Habitat:

American Coots inhabit a range of aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. They are often seen in large groups and are more abundant during the winter migration season.

Diet:

American Coots are herbivorous and primarily feed on aquatic plants, including algae, grasses, and seeds. They also consume small invertebrates, such as insects and crustaceans, when available.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized water bird with dark plumage and lobed feet
Distinct FeaturesWhite bill and white forehead patch
BehaviorStrong swimmers and divers, often seen feeding in groups
NestingBuild floating nests near water vegetation
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

16-White Pelican

White Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive appearance. They have a white plumage, a long neck, a yellow bill, and black wingtips. During the breeding season, they develop a fibrous knob on the top of their bill.

Habitat:

White Pelicans can be found in freshwater habitats, including lakes, reservoirs, marshes, and coastal areas. They prefer areas with shallow water where they can engage in cooperative feeding.

Diet:

White Pelicans are piscivorous, meaning they primarily feed on fish. They forage by swimming in groups and cooperatively herding fish into shallow water, where they scoop them up in their pouched bill.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeLarge water bird with a long neck and a yellow bill
Distinct FeaturesWhite plumage and black wingtips
FlightGraceful and soaring, with slow wingbeats
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

17-Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfishers are small to medium-sized birds with a stocky build. They have a blue-gray plumage, a shaggy crest on the head, and a long, thick bill. The female has an additional rusty-brown band across her belly.

Habitat:

Belted Kingfishers can be found near freshwater bodies, including rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. They prefer areas with clear water where they can spot fish from perches.

Diet:

Belted Kingfishers are piscivorous and primarily feed on fish. They hover over the water and dive headfirst to catch fish with their sharp beak. They can also feed on crustaceans, insects, and amphibians.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall to medium-sized bird with a stocky build
Distinct FeaturesBlue-gray plumage and shaggy crest
BehaviorOften seen perched near water, hovering and diving to catch fish
NestingDig nesting burrows in dirt or sandbanks near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

18-Canada Goose

Canada Geese are large waterfowl with a distinctive appearance. They have a black head and neck, a white chinstrap, a brownish-gray body, and a long black neck. They also have a prominent white “U” shape on their abdomen.

canada goose

Habitat:

Canada Geese can be found in a variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, rivers, fields, and parks. They are adaptable and can thrive in urban and suburban environments.

Diet:

Canada Geese are herbivorous and primarily feed on grass, leaves, aquatic plants, and grains. They graze on land or swim in shallow water while foraging.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeLarge waterfowl with a long black neck
Distinct FeaturesBlack head and neck, white chinstrap, and prominent white “U” shape on the abdomen
FlightStrong fliers, often flying in V-shaped formations
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

19-American Bittern

American Bitterns are medium-sized herons with a cryptic plumage pattern that helps them blend in with their surroundings. They have a brownish overall coloration with streaks and speckles, which provide excellent camouflage. They have a long neck, a pointed bill, and yellow eyes.

Habitat:

American Bitterns inhabit freshwater and brackish wetlands, including marshes, swamps, and reed beds. They prefer areas with dense vegetation for hunting and nesting.

Diet:

American Bitterns primarily feed on small fish, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They employ a hunting technique called “freeze and wait,” where they stand motionless among vegetation and ambush their prey.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized heron with a cryptic plumage pattern
Distinct FeaturesLong neck, pointed bill, and yellow eyes
BehaviorCamouflages among reeds and freezes to avoid detection
NestingBuild nests on platforms made of vegetation in wetland areas
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

20-Snowy Egret

Snowy Egrets are medium-sized herons with a graceful appearance. They have a white plumage, a long black bill, and long black legs with bright yellow feet. During the breeding season, they develop long, wispy plumes on their back, neck, and head.

Habitat:

Snowy Egrets can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, swamps, estuaries, and coastal areas. They prefer areas with shallow water where they can forage for prey.

Diet:

Snowy Egrets primarily feed on small fish, crustaceans, insects, and amphibians. They use a variety of hunting techniques, including wading, walking, and standing still while waiting for prey to come within striking distance.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized heron with a white plumage and long black legs
Distinct FeaturesLong, wispy plumes during the breeding season
BehaviorActive foragers, often seen using foot-stirring technique to flush out prey
NestingBuild nests in trees or shrubs near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

21-Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebes are small to medium-sized water birds with a stocky build. They have a brownish-gray plumage, a distinctive black bill with a white band, and a short tail. During the breeding season, they develop a dark vertical stripe on their bill.

pied billed grebe

Habitat:

Pied-billed Grebes can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. They prefer areas with dense vegetation where they can build floating nests.

Diet:

Pied-billed Grebes have a diverse diet that includes small fish, crustaceans, insects, and aquatic plants. They are skilled divers and can swim underwater to catch their prey.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall to medium-sized water bird with a stocky build
Distinct FeaturesBlack bill with a white band and a dark vertical stripe during the breeding season
BehaviorExcellent divers and swimmers, often diving to escape predators
NestingBuild floating nests among dense vegetation
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

22-Green Heron

Green Herons are small herons with a compact build. They have a greenish-black back, a chestnut neck and chest, and a grayish-white belly. They have a short neck, a long pointed bill, and yellowish legs.

green heron

Habitat:

Green Herons can be found near freshwater habitats, including marshes, swamps, ponds, and streams. They prefer areas with dense vegetation where they can hide and stalk their prey.

Diet:

Green Herons primarily feed on small fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects. They employ a hunting technique called “bill vibrating,” where they lure fish by dropping small objects or insects onto the water’s surface.

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeSmall heron with a compact build
Distinct FeaturesGreenish-black back and chestnut neck and chest
BehaviorPatient hunters, often seen perched and waiting for prey
NestingBuild nests in trees or shrubs near water
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

23-Northern Pintail

Northern Pintails are medium-sized ducks known for their elegant appearance. The male has a long, slender neck, a white breast, a brown head with a white stripe, and a long, pointed tail. The female has a more subdued plumage with a mottled brown coloration.

Types of Water Birds of alabama

Habitat:

Northern Pintails can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, lakes, ponds, and estuaries. They prefer open water areas where they can swim and forage.

Diet:

Northern Pintails are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods. They primarily consume seeds, grains, aquatic plants, and invertebrates. They often feed by dabbling, where they tip their head and upper body underwater while keeping their tail up.

Identification and Characteristics:

CharacteristicsDescription
SizeMedium-sized duck with a long, slender neck and pointed tail
Distinct Features               Male has a white breast, brown head with a white stripe, and long, pointed tail
VoiceMale produces a soft whistle, while females have a quacking sound
Breeding SeasonSpring and early summer
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Conclusion

A wide variety of aquatic birds, each with distinctive traits and adaptations, can be found in Alabama. These species, which include the impressive Great Blue Heron and the vibrant Wood Duck, add to the diverse ecosystem of Alabama’s wetlands. The unique adaptations they have developed to flourish in aquatic environments are fascinatingly displayed by the variety of their physical characteristics, habitats, food, and habits.

For bird aficionados, nature lovers, and wildlife photographers, observing and appreciating these water birds may be a gratifying experience. Their presence enhances the beauty and peace of Alabama’s natural environments, whether you come across them in lively lakes or peaceful marshes.

Also Read:

Top 6 Long Billed Water Birds

20 Types of Black Birds with Red Chest

Are Pileated Woodpeckers rare?

How Long do Canaries Live?

Are all water birds in Alabama migratory?

No, not all water birds in Alabama are migratory. While some species migrate to Alabama during specific seasons, others are year-round residents.

How can I identify water birds in Alabama?

Identification of water birds can be done by observing their physical characteristics such as size, coloration, bill shape, and leg length. Field guides, birding apps, and online resources can also assist in bird identification.

Are water birds endangered in Alabama?

While some water bird species may face conservation concerns, many of the birds mentioned in this article, such as the Mallard Duck and the Great Blue Heron, are categorized as “Least Concern” in terms of their conservation status.

Can I feed water birds in Alabama?

It is generally recommended to avoid feeding wild water birds. Altering their natural diet can lead to dependency, disrupt their feeding behaviors, and potentially introduce harmful substances or diseases.

Where are the best places to spot water birds in Alabama?

Alabama offers numerous prime locations for birdwatching. Some popular spots include Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Dauphin Island, and Mobile-Tensaw Delta. These areas provide excellent opportunities to observe and photograph a wide variety of water birds.

1 thought on “23 Different Types of Water Birds Found in Alabama”

Leave a Comment