25 Most Common Water birds in Alabama (+ Photo Guides)
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Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Alabama, a remarkable haven awaits bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Alabama’s abundant water bodies play host to a diverse array of captivating water birds, providing an enchanting spectacle for those who seek to explore the avian wonders of the state.
From graceful herons to vibrant ducks, the world of water birds in Alabama is a vibrant tapestry waiting to be discovered. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting world of water birds in Alabama!
Gulf Coast region, particularly Mobile and Baldwin counties
Great Blue Heron
Wetlands, Marshes, Lakes
Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
Wetlands and Marshes
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Wetlands, Marshes, Lakes
Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
American White Ibis
Wetlands and Marshes
Water Bird Species Found in Alabama
Listen to Mallard
Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 20–26 in
Wingspan: 32–39 in
Weight: 1.5–3.5 lb
The Mallard is a well-known species of duck they are particularly recognized for their adaptability and can thrive in both urban and wild environments.
Male Mallards are renowned for their striking plumage, with a glossy green head, a white collar, and a chestnut-colored chest, while females sport mottled brown feathers. They both have blue speculum feathers on their wings, which can be seen during flight. Both sexes also exhibit a distinct curl on the tail feathers, more noticeable in males.
Mallards are omnivorous in nature. Their diet is diverse and includes seeds, aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish. They are frequently seen ‘dabbling’ in the water, where they dip their head and neck below the surface while upending their body to forage for food.
In terms of reproduction, Mallards usually nest on the ground near water bodies, camouflaged by vegetation. The female lays a clutch of 7 to 10 eggs, and she incubates them for about a month. After hatching, the ducklings are precocial – they are active and able to feed themselves, but they continue to stay with their mother for protection until they can fly, which usually takes about two months.
Mallards are an iconic species that have significantly contributed to the genetic makeup of many domestic duck breeds. They are beloved for their rich colors, distinctive quacks, and playful demeanor.
Scientific Name: Anas fulvigula
Length: 19.7–22.5 in
Wingspan: 32.7–34.3 in
Weight: 30.9–43.8 oz
The Mottled Duck is a medium-sized waterfowl species known for its subdued coloration and affinity for coastal marshes. It’s primarily found in the southern United States, particularly in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.
Appearance: As the name suggests, Mottled Ducks feature a mottled brown plumage that allows them to blend into their marshy surroundings. They have a fairly uniform color with darker back and lighter underparts. Their bills are yellow to orange, with the males usually sporting a greenish-yellow bill while the females have a more orange one.
Diet: Mottled Ducks are dabbling ducks and they primarily feed on a diet of seeds from aquatic vegetation, grasses, and agricultural crops. They also eat some aquatic insects and crustaceans.
Reproduction: Mottled Ducks pair up for the breeding season and the female typically lays 8 to 10 eggs in a nest hidden in tall grass or reeds. The female incubates the eggs while the male stands guard nearby.
Scientific Name: Aix sponsa
Length: 19 to 21 in
Wingspan: 26 to 29 in
Weight: 16.0-30.4 oz
The Wood Duck is an exquisitely colorful waterfowl known for its unique nesting habits and is commonly seen in wooded swamps, marshes, and streams across North America.
Appearance: With their dazzling plumage, Wood Ducks are among the most stunning birds. Males display a multitude of colors, including a green and purple crested head, red eyes, and a white-striped chest, all contrasted with a bronze-colored body. Females, though more subdued with a gray-brown body and white eye-ring, also possess their own charm.
Diet: Wood Ducks have a diverse diet that includes seeds, fruits, and insects, as well as other invertebrates. Their broad diet helps them to adapt to a variety of habitats, whether in the wild or in urban areas with suitable nesting sites.
Reproduction: Unlike most other ducks, Wood Ducks prefer to nest in tree cavities near water, leading to their common name. They will also readily use nest boxes if they’re available. A typical clutch consists of 9 to 14 eggs, which the female incubates alone.
Listen to American Wigeon
Scientific Name: Mareca americana
Length: 17–23 in
Wingspan: 30–36 in
Weight: 1 –3 lb
The American Wigeon is a medium-sized duck species that is a popular sight in wetlands, ponds, and lakes and is often seen in mixed flocks with other ducks.
Males of the species are recognized by their distinctive appearance. They sport a unique white forehead and crown, coupled with a green band stretching from the eye to the back of the head. The body is mainly gray with a pinkish hue on the chest. Females are more subdued in color, with primarily gray and brown tones.
Diet: comprising mainly plant material like aquatic vegetation and grasses, but it also includes insects and other small invertebrates. They are known for a feeding behavior called “kleptoparasitism,” where they often snatch food from other ducks.
American Wigeons usually breed in the northernmost parts of North America. The females create their nests on the ground, often hidden in tall grass near water bodies. They lay a clutch of 6 to 11 eggs which they incubate for about three to four weeks and the ducklings feed on small aquatic invertebrates and aquatic insects.
Scientific Name: Oxyura jamaicensis
Length: 13.8-16.9 in
Wingspan: 22.1-24.4 in
Weight: 10.6-30.0 o
The Ruddy Duck is a compact diving duck species recognized for its bright blue bill and stiff tail that is often held upright. These small, agile birds are found in wetlands and ponds across the United States.
Appearance: Ruddy Ducks are characterized by their distinct reddish-brown plumage, a blackish cap and nape, and a strikingly blue bill in males. The females are less vibrant, with gray-brown feathers and a dark bill. Both genders display a unique, spiky tail that often sticks upright, especially during courtship displays.
Diet: Ruddy Ducks primarily feed on a diet of aquatic invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. They also consume a variety of aquatic plants and seeds. Their specialized bill allows them to sift through the water and mud to find food.
Reproduction: Ruddy Ducks nest in marshes and ponds with dense vegetation. The female typically lays a clutch of 6 to 10 eggs in a well-concealed nest built from plant material and down.
Scientific Name: Aythya valisineria
Length: 19–22 in
Wingspan: 31–35 in
Weight: 1.900–3.527 lb
The Canvasback is a large diving duck species known for its sloping forehead and long, robust bill. These distinctive birds are primarily found in the wetlands and open water bodies across the United States.
Appearance: Male Canvasbacks are easily recognized by their reddish heads, black chests, and white bodies, which gives the impression of a canvas-like texture, hence their name. Females, on the other hand, have light brown feathers and a slightly paler belly. Both genders have dark gray bills and red eyes.
Diet: Canvasbacks are primarily vegetarian, feeding on aquatic plants like wild celery, pondweeds, and algae. They also occasionally consume small aquatic animals, such as snails, insects, and crustaceans.
Reproduction: Canvasbacks typically nest over water, using marsh plants to construct their nests. The female usually lays a clutch of 5 to 11 eggs which she alone incubates for about a month.
Scientific Name: Aythya americana
Length: 15 in
Wingspan: 33 in
Weight: 2.0 to 2.5 lbs
The Redhead is a medium-sized diving duck species recognized by its rounded head and broad blue bill. This bird is frequently found in wetlands, ponds, and open water bodies across the United States.
Appearance: The male Redhead is particularly striking, characterized by a coppery red head, black breast, and a gray body. The female is less colorful, featuring a brownish body and a duller, brownish-red head. Both sexes have a prominent blue bill with a black tip.
Diet: Redheads feed on a variety of items, including aquatic plants, seeds, and tubers. They also consume aquatic invertebrates, particularly during the breeding season.
Reproduction: Redheads often nest in marshes and ponds with dense vegetation.Females often lay their eggs in the nests of other ducks, a phenomenon known as brood parasitism. When nesting themselves, the female typically lays a clutch of 7 to 10 eggs and incubates them for about three weeks.
Listen to Northern Pintail
Scientific Name: Anas acuta
Length: 23–30 in
Wingspan: 31–37 in
Weight: 1 –3 lb
The Northern Pintail is a graceful species of duck recognized for their elegance in flight and their sleek bodies and long tails which is pin-shaped.
Male Northern Pintails are celebrated for their distinctive appearance, featuring a chocolate brown head, a white neck, and a grayish body. The most notable characteristic is the long, pointed tail feathers, which give this species its name. Females are more understated in color, sporting a mottled brown plumage.
Diet: Consists primarily of plant matter, including seeds and aquatic vegetation. They are also known to eat insects, especially during the breeding season. The Northern Pintail is often seen dabbling and upending in water bodies to forage for food.
Reproduction: Northern Pintails usually nest on the ground, near water bodies. The female lays a clutch of 7 to 9 eggs and is solely responsible for their incubation, which lasts for about three weeks.
Listen to Northern Shoveler
Scientific Name: Spatula clypeata
Length: 16 in
Wingspan: 22 in
Weight: 14 oz
The Northern Shoveler is a distinct species of dabbling duck celebrated for its long, spoon-shaped bill, a feature that sets it apart from other ducks and gives the bird its name.
Appearance: Male Northern Shovelers are particularly striking, boasting a green head, yellow eyes, a large black bill, and a white chest, complemented by a chestnut-colored body. Females, on the other hand, feature a more muted color scheme, primarily displaying mottled brown feathers across their bodies and a slate-gray bill.
Diet: The Northern Shoveler’s unique bill is perfectly adapted for its feeding habits. The edges of the bill are furnished with comb-like structures that enable the bird to filter food from water. Their diet predominantly consists of aquatic invertebrates and plant matter, including seeds and algae.
Reproduction: Northern Shovelers typically nest on the ground, concealed within dense, grassy areas close to water bodies. The female lays a clutch of about 9 to 12 eggs and is solely responsible for their incubation, which lasts for about three to four weeks.
Listen to Blue-winged Teal
Scientific Name: Spatula discors
Length: 16 in
Wingspan: 23 in
Weight: 13 oz
The Blue-winged Teal is a small species of dabbling duck known for its striking plumage and its extensive migratory habits.
Appearance: Male Blue-winged Teals are quite colorful, with a slate gray head and neck, a white crescent in front of the eyes, and a predominantly brown body with specks of black. The name “Blue-winged” comes from the patch of blue feathers visible on their wings during flight. Females, in contrast, are primarily brown and subtly mottled to provide camouflage.
Diet: The Blue-winged Teal feeds mainly on plant matter, such as seeds and aquatic vegetation. However, they also supplement their diet with small invertebrates, especially during the breeding season. They are known for their “dabbling” behavior, where they feed at the surface of the water rather than diving.
Reproduction: Blue-winged Teals prefer to nest on the ground in grassy areas near water. The female typically lays a clutch of 9 to 13 eggs, which she incubates alone for about three weeks. After hatching, the ducklings can feed themselves but remain under the mother’s protection until they are capable of flying.
Listen to Green-winged Teal
Scientific Name: Anas crecca
Length: 12.2-15.3 in
Wingspan: 20.5-23.2 in
Weight: 14.9-17.6 oz
The Green-winged Teal is a small species of dabbling duck known for its vibrant coloration and quick, agile flight.
Appearance: Male Green-winged Teals are particularly striking with a chestnut head, a broad green streak running from the eye down the neck, and a speckled chest. The name “Green-winged” originates from the patch of iridescent green feathers visible on their wings. Females are more subtly colored, primarily in mottled brown tones that provide excellent camouflage.
Diet: The Green-winged Teal’s diet consists largely of plant matter such as seeds and aquatic vegetation. They also eat small invertebrates, particularly during the breeding season. These birds are ‘dabblers.’
Reproduction: Green-winged Teals typically nest on the ground, often concealed in dense vegetation near water bodies. The female lays a clutch of about 6 to 9 eggs, which she incubates alone for roughly three weeks.
Black-bellied whistling duck
Scientific Name: Dendrocygna autumnalis
Length: 17-24 inches
Wingspan: 31.5-34.3 in
Weight: 1.5-2.7 lbs
The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a unique species known for its high-pitched whistling call, and it is one of the few duck species that have strong monogamous relationships.
Appearance: The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is notable for its bright coral-red bill, long pink legs, and its namesake black belly. It has a grey face and chest, and its back is covered with brown feathers that give a scaled appearance. Both males and females share a similar color pattern, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.
Diet: This duck’s diet is mainly vegetarian, consisting predominantly of seeds and grains. They also consume insects, snails, and other small invertebrates. Unlike many other ducks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks often forage on land, especially at night.
Reproduction: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks usually nest in tree cavities near water, but they will also use nest boxes. The female typically lays between 9 to 16 eggs.
Canada Goose Sound
Scientific Name: Branta canadensis
Length: 30 to 43 in
Wingspan: 50–73 in
Weight: 5.7–14.3 lb
The Canada Goose is a large, well-known species of waterfowl noted for its distinctive appearance, familiar “honk,” and migratory behavior.
Appearance: Both male and female Canada Geese have a similar appearance, featuring a black head and neck with distinctive white patches on the cheeks and chin. The body is primarily brown with a lighter, often white, underbelly.
Diet: Canada Geese primarily feed on plant matter, including grasses, aquatic vegetation, and grains. They can often be seen grazing in parks, lawns, and fields, as well as dabbling in water bodies.
Reproduction: Canada Geese typically nest on the ground near water bodies, often on islands or other isolated areas to avoid predators. The female lays a clutch of about 4 to 6 eggs, which she incubates alone for around a month.
Snow Goose Sound
Scientific Name: Anser caerulescens
Length: 25 to 31 in
Wingspan: 53 to 65 in
Weight: 4.5 to 6.0
The Snow Goose is a large species of waterfowl known for its vibrant white plumage and significant migratory flights.
Appearance: True to their name, Snow Geese are predominantly white with black wingtips. They also have a pink bill, pink legs and feet. A color morph, known as the “Blue Goose,” displays a bluish-gray body with a white head, but is considered the same species.
Diet: Snow Geese primarily feed on plant matter, such as grasses, sedges, and small grains. They can often be seen in large flocks foraging in fields and marshes, and during migration and winter, they can cause considerable damage to agricultural fields due to their feeding habits.
Reproduction: Snow Geese typically nest on the tundra, near water bodies. The female builds the nest and lays a clutch of about 3 to 5 eggs, which she incubates alone for approximately three weeks. Once hatched, the goslings can feed themselves but stay with their parents for protection until they can fly.
Scientific Name: Gavia immer
Length: 24-39 in
Wingspan: 50-56 in
Weight: 6.4-13.6 lbs
The Common Loon is a large, iconic water bird that can be found in many parts of North America. It is known for its haunting calls, often heard in the early morning or late evening across the region’s lakes and ponds.
Appearance: The Common Loon is celebrated for its striking black-and-white breeding plumage, a red eye, and a robust, black bill. In winter, its plumage turns to a more subdued gray, but its large, sturdy body and pointed bill remain distinctive.
Diet: Common Loons primarily feed on fish, but also consume crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic insects. They are expert divers, capable of plunging deep underwater to catch their prey, and are often observed popping their heads above water before diving for their next meal.
Reproduction: The Common Loon nests near water, typically on lakes and larger ponds in the northern parts of North America. The female generally lays 1-2 eggs per year in a nest made from vegetation on the ground. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and feeding the young.
Scientific Name: Fulica americana
Length: 13–17 in
Wingspan: 23 to 28 in
Weight: 1.270 to 1.870 lb
The American Coot is a ubiquitous water bird commonly seen in the wetlands, lakes, and ponds of North America, recognized for its adaptability and striking features.
Appearance: American Coots are easily identifiable by their slate-gray bodies, offset by a white, chicken-like bill and a red eye. Their legs are also distinctive, equipped with lobed toes, as opposed to the webbed feet seen in ducks, which assist them in navigating both land and water adeptly.
Diet: While aquatic plants form the bulk of an American Coot’s diet, they aren’t strictly herbivores. These versatile birds also consume small invertebrates and fish, demonstrating their ability to adapt and survive in a variety of habitats.
Reproduction: Nesting for the American Coot usually happens in shallow water bodies, where they construct a floating nest hidden among the vegetation. A clutch can contain between 8 to 12 eggs, all of which are incubated by both parents.
Scientific Name: Coturnicops noveboracensis
Length: 5.1–7.1 in
Wingspan: 11.0–12.6 in
Weight: 1.4–2.4 oz
The Yellow Rail is a small and secretive bird species that is more often heard than seen. It is primarily found in the marshy wetlands of the United States, especially in the Midwest and along the Atlantic coast.
Appearance: The Yellow Rail is characterized by its small size, short bill, and short tail. It displays a unique pattern of black, yellow, and white stripes on its back and wings, giving it perfect camouflage among the grasses and reeds in its habitat. Because of their elusive nature and effective camouflage, these birds are often difficult to spot.
Diet: The Yellow Rail primarily feeds on small invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and snails. They also consume seeds and other plant matter. Their feeding habits are largely nocturnal, contributing further to their secretive nature.
Reproduction: Yellow Rails usually nest on the ground in dense, grassy areas of wetlands. The female lays a clutch of 6 to 10 eggs which she incubates for about two weeks.
Scientific Name: Rallus crepitans
Length: 12.6-16.1 in
Wingspan: 19-21 in
Weight: 9.2-14.1 oz
The Clapper Rail is a large and secretive marsh bird known for its distinctive kek-kek-kek call. Primarily found in saltwater marshes and mangroves in the coastal regions of the United States, the bird is notoriously elusive, often hiding among reeds and grasses.
Appearance: Clapper Rails have long, slightly downward-curving bills and short, powerful wings. Their plumage is a mottled mix of brown, gray, and white, offering the perfect camouflage among the marsh vegetation. They have strong legs and large feet, well adapted for their lifestyle in marshes.
Diet: The diet of Clapper Rails is diverse, consisting of small crustaceans, fish, insects, and various plant matter. These birds forage at the edge of the water, often probing the mud with their bills in search of food.
Reproduction: Clapper Rails build their nests among the tall grasses in the marsh, slightly above the high-water mark. The female lays a clutch of about 4 to 9 eggs, which both parents incubate.
Scientific Name: Podilymbus podiceps
Length: 12–15 in
Wingspan: 18–24 in
Weight: 8.9–20.0 oz
The Pied-billed Grebe is a small, elusive water bird well-known for its unique ability to adjust its buoyancy and often “sink” out of sight. It can be found in a wide variety of wetland habitats across the United States.
Appearance: Pied-billed Grebes have a stocky build with a short neck and a chicken-like bill that is conspicuously ringed in black during the breeding season – hence the name “pied-billed”. Their plumage is primarily a muted brown, which can vary in tone depending on the season.
Diet: Their diet consists predominantly of aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and amphibians. Pied-billed Grebes are adept divers and can stay underwater for impressive lengths of time to catch their prey.
Reproduction: Pied-billed Grebes usually nest in dense marsh vegetation, where the female lays 5 to 7 eggs. Both parents share responsibilities for incubation. After hatching, the chicks are often seen riding on their parents’ backs while they learn to navigate their aquatic world.
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Scientific Name: Podiceps auritus
Length: 31–38 cm
Wingspan: 55–74 cm
Weight: 300–570 g
The Horned Grebe is a small water bird well-known for its stunning breeding plumage and distinctive “horns”. Its habitats span across many parts of North America, particularly favoring freshwater lakes and ponds during the breeding season, while winters are spent along sea coasts.
Appearance: In breeding season, the Horned Grebe boasts a vivid red neck, black cheek patches, and an intricate fan of golden feathers behind the eyes that resemble horns – a trait that lends the bird its name. During winter, their plumage turns to a more subdued gray and white. Regardless of the season, their red eyes and stout, pointy bills remain constant.
Diet: The Horned Grebe’s diet is primarily composed of small fish, but it also includes insects, crustaceans, and some vegetation. They’re excellent divers, often disappearing under the water for lengthy periods in search of food.
Reproduction: Horned Grebes build floating nests anchored to aquatic vegetation near the water’s edge. The female typically lays a clutch of 3-8 eggs, and both parents share incubation duties.
American White Pelican
Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Length: 50–70 in
Wingspan: 95–120 in
Weight:11 and 20 lb
The American White Pelican is a large water bird known for its impressive size, distinct white plumage, and extraordinary cooperative feeding behavior. They are commonly found in the inland freshwater lakes of North America during the summer and along the coastlines in the winter.
Appearance: American White Pelicans have a pure white body with black wingtips that are visible in flight. Their large yellow-orange bill is equipped with a stretchy pouch used for catching prey, and during the breeding season, they develop a unique, horn-like plate on the upper part of their bill.
Diet: Unlike their Brown Pelican cousins, American White Pelicans do not dive for their food. Instead, they catch their prey while swimming. They primarily xatch fish, but occasionally supplement their diet with crustaceans and amphibians. Interestingly, they often feed in groups, moving together to herd fish into shallow waters where they can easily scoop them up.
Reproduction: American White Pelicans typically nest in colonies on isolated islands. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs in a nest on the ground, which is made from dirt and vegetation.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Listen to Great Blue Heron
Scientific Name: Ardea herodias
Wingspan: 66–79 in
Weight: 4.0–7.9 lb
The Great Blue Heron is a large species of wading bird recognized for its majestic stature, stately flight, and impressive hunting prowess.
Appearance: Great Blue Herons are strikingly tall and slender, with a gray-blue body, a wide wingspan, and a long, pointed bill. They have a white head with a black stripe above the eye extending into feathery plumes, and long, reddish-brown legs.
Diet: Great Blue Herons are skilled hunters, primarily feeding on a variety of aquatic animals such as fish, frogs, and crustaceans. They can often be seen standing motionless in shallow water, waiting patiently for prey to come within striking distance.
Reproduction: Great Blue Herons nest in large colonies, often high in trees near bodies of water. The female lays a clutch of about 3 to 5 eggs, which both parents incubate for around a month. After hatching, the young herons are fed by both parents and start to explore outside the nest within a few weeks.
Scientific Name: Butorides virescen
Length: 25 to 31 in
Wingspan: 53 to 65 in
Weight: 4.5 to 6.0
The Green Heron is a small yet captivating bird, famous for its tool-using abilities and its striking appearance. This species can often be found around the edges of freshwater and saltwater habitats across much of North America.
Appearance: Green Herons possess a dark greenish-blue back, a rich chestnut body, and a dark cap on their head. Their bill is long and sharp, allowing them to be proficient hunters, while their relatively short legs give them a stocky appearance compared to other heron species.
Diet: As opportunistic feeders, Green Herons feed mainly on small fish, but their diet also includes a variety of invertebrates, insects, amphibians, and occasionally even small mammals and birds. They’re known for a unique hunting technique – using baits such as insects, feathers, or twigs to attract fish.
Reproduction: Green Herons build their nests in trees or shrubs, usually over or near water. The female typically lays 3 to 5 eggs, with both parents sharing the responsibilities of incubation.
Scientific Name: Ardea alba
Length: 80 – 100 cm
Wingspan: 1.3 – 1.7 m
Weight: 0.7 – 1.5 kg
The Great Egret is a large, stunningly white bird commonly found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats across the United States. Known for its elegant flight and poised hunting stance, it is a symbol of conservation success.
Appearance: Great Egrets are recognized by their bright white plumage, long, black legs, and a yellow, dagger-like bill. Their slender, long necks and large wings are highlighted when they take flight, creating an elegant and captivating sight.
Diet: Primarily, the Great Egret feeds on fish, making use of its sharp bill to spear its prey in shallow water. However, its diet is diverse and can include other aquatic creatures like amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals, and invertebrates.
Reproduction: The Great Egret typically nests in trees or shrubs near water bodies, often in colonies with other water birds. A female lays 3 to 4 eggs, with both parents participating in the incubation process.
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus
Length: 21 to 28 in
Wingspan: 35 to 41 in
Weight: 1.6 – 2.3lb
The White Ibis is a wading bird renowned for its bright white plumage and distinctive, down-curved bill. It’s most commonly found in the marshes, wetlands, and along the coastlines of the southeastern United States.
Appearance: White Ibises display a predominantly white plumage that’s contrasted by their brilliant red-orange down-curved bill and legs. During the breeding season, the skin on their face may become dark blue. Juvenile White Ibises have brown upper parts and white underparts.
Diet: The diet of the White Ibis primarily consists of various invertebrates, including insects, crayfish, and other small crustaceans. Their long, curved bill is perfectly adapted for probing in mud and shallow water while foraging for food.
Reproduction: White Ibises nest in large colonies, often with other wading birds. The female typically lays 2 to 4 eggs in a nest made of twigs and leaves in trees or shrubs.
Where to Spot Alabama’s Water Birds
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge: Located along the Tennessee River, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for water birds in Alabama. This expansive refuge offers diverse habitats including wetlands, lakes, and bottomland hardwood forests, attracting a wide variety of species. Look out for Mallards, Wood Ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, and Great Blue Herons among the many water bird species that call this refuge home.
Gulf Shores: With its coastal location, Gulf Shores provides an ideal environment for spotting water birds. The beaches, marshes, and lagoons attract an array of species. Keep an eye out for Ruddy Ducks, Green-winged Teals, American White Pelicans, and Great Egrets as you explore this coastal paradise.
Mobile Bay: Mobile Bay is a hotspot for water bird enthusiasts. The expansive bay and its surrounding wetlands offer a rich feeding ground for a diverse range of species. Here, you may encounter Mottled Ducks, American Coots, Clapper Rails, and American White Ibises, among others, as they forage in the marshes and along the shores of the bay.
Wheeler Lake: As part of the Tennessee River system, Wheeler Lake offers another fantastic location for observing water birds. This reservoir attracts numerous species, including Canvasbacks, Pied-billed Grebes, Northern Pintails, and Snow Geese. The lake’s scenic beauty and abundant wildlife make it a prime destination for birdwatchers.
Dauphin Island: Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island serves as a critical stopover point for migrating water birds. The island’s beaches, mudflats, and marshes provide essential resting and feeding areas. Look for Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Great Blue Herons, Redheads, and Great Egrets during their migration seasons.
Everglades National Park, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge
There are over 100 species of water birds in Alabama, we have just picked the 25 must see ones, but there are plenty of other birds which could beincluded in this list from sandhill cranes, great blue herons, green crested head of the Carolina duck and many other closely related ducks and many more Alabama birds. The American white pelicans with their yellow feet, and many birds which are migrating to central and south america and stop in Alabama on their way.