The Northern flicker or Yellowhammer is the official state bird symbol of Alabama, which is scientifically known Colaptes auratus. Alabama’s state bird Northern flicker is commonly known as Yellowhammer. It is also called Clape, boreal flicker, common flicker, gilded woodpecker, Golden Winged Woodpecker, golden-winged woodpecker, Guadalupe flicker, Malherbe’s flicker, Mearns’ flicker, northwestern flicker, Pigeon Woodpecker, red-hammer, red-shafted flicker, red-shafted woodpecker, San Fernando flicker, San Pedro flicker, southern flicker, Wake up, wake-up, wick-up, Yellow-shafted woodpecker, gaffer woodpecker, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, Yarup and many more.
Alabama’s state bird Northern flicker or Yellowhammer comes from the woodpecker family, which is native to the range of most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, and few of woodpecker species are migrated. Since the Civil War, the Yellowhammer has been a symbol of Alabama. (The “Yellowhammer State” is one of Alabama’s nicknames). The colors of yellowhammers are gray and yellow, which resemble the uniform of a Confederate cavalryman. One of the Alabama regiment of the Confederate Army wore yellowhammer’s feather in their hats. It was a widespread abundance of the species led to the yellowhammer’s selection as Alabama’s state bird symbol. The Yellowhammer or Northern Flicker was adopted as Alabama’s official state bird symbol on September 6, 1927.
The bill to create a state bird was introduced in the 1927 legislature by Representative Thomas E. Martin, of Montgomery County.
Facts about the Northern Flicker–
Common name: Northern Flicker or Yellowhammer
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Habitat: Open forests, groves, orchards, farms, and semi-open country.
Color coat: Gray-brown color with broken black bars on the body feathers and with the yellow shafts of the flight feathers partly visible.
Diet: Flickers eat ants more than any other birds of American. They also eat flies, grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars along with snails, berries, fruits, nuts, poison oak and poison ivy, dogwood, sumac, wild cherry, grape, bayberries, hackberries, and elderberries, as well as sunflower and thistle seeds.
Song and Calls: a loud wick wick wick, ki-ki-ki (song); a loud flick-a flicka (during hostility and wooing)
- Weight: 86 – 167 g
- Length: 28 – 36 cm
- Wingspan: 42 – 54 cm
- Average lifespan: “yellow-shafted” flicker (9.2 years); “red-shafted” flicker (8.9 years)
- Incubation period: 11 to 13 days
Symbolism: Northern flickers are considered as lucky birds and are related with friendship and symbolise happiness, good luck and healing.
Northern flickers or Yellowhammer is the most beautiful and distinguish bird in Alabama, which considered as lucky birds and are related with friendship and happiness. Especially, the yellow-shafted flickers or yellowhammers are believed to bring good luck and healing and reasonably it was designated as the official state bird symbol of Alabama.