(WHNT) — Alabama’s State Bird is officially the Yellow-hammer, also known as the Northern Flicker, but the bird’s name doesn’t actually have much to do with how it looks but it does have something to do with North Alabama.
The Northern, or Common Flicker is a woodpecker that can be found in much of North America. The bird has two main subspecies the Yellow-Shafted Flicker and the Red-Shafted Flicker, with the yellow-shafted variety being more common in the eastern portions of the United States, including Alabama.
Both subspecies are primarily brown and black barred on the back and wings and have buff or whitish-colored breast with black spots. They also have a wide black “necklace.”
The Yellow-Shafted Flicker differs from the red-shafted variety by having a gray crown and a distinctive red patch at the nape of its neck and males have blake lines at the base of their bill that resemble a mustache. They get the name yellow-shafted from the bright yellow feathers under its wing and tail.
Yet these feathers aren’t what gives the bird the name Yellow-hammer.
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural resources, the name actually has to do with a bit of Huntsville History.
The department said the name actually comes from a nickname of a Civil War Era cavalry unit made up of young men from Huntsville called the “yellowhammer company because of brilliant yellow bits of cloth on their sleeves, collars, and much like the birds, coattails.