23 Different Types of Water Birds in Alabama

Different Types of Water Birds in Alabama
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten

Alabama is home to a wide variety of water birds, including egrets, herons, pelicans, ducks, and more.

Whether you’re a bird enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone who loves the outdoors, our blog post will give you a great overview of the different types of water birds in Alabama. 

You’ll spot some amazing birds when you visit Yellowhammer State. Keep reading to learn more about the types of water birds in Alabama

1. Mallard

The Mallard is first on our list of types of water birds in Alabama. They are usually found near the state’s shallow waters, such as ponds and lakes. 

These types of water birds in Alabama have bright green heads and brown bodies, which makes them easily recognizable.

Mallards typically nest in grassy wetlands and eat various plants and insects, including aquatic plants, grasses, grain, and bugs. 

They are often seen in groups but can also be found alone or with other ducks and waterfowl.

In addition to providing food for themselves and their young, Mallards help to keep water bodies clean by eating and breaking down debris.

2. American Wigeon

The American Wigeon is one of Alabama’s most common types of water birds. It is a medium-sized dabbling duck, measuring between 16 and 21 inches in length. 

The male Wigeon has a gray body, with a dark gray head and chestnut-colored cheeks. The female is brownish-gray in color. Both sexes have a white patch on the back of their heads. 

These types of water birds in Alabama usually inhabit freshwater marshes, ponds, and other slow-moving bodies of water.

They feed mainly on aquatic plants, small invertebrates, and seeds, although they will also eat insects and crustaceans. 

During the breeding season, they will migrate north to lay eggs in shallow wetlands.

During winter months, American Wigeons may be found in large flocks along coastal areas in the southern parts of Alabama.

3. Northern Pintail

The Northern Pintail is a species of dabbling duck that is found in wetlands and other shallow areas throughout much of Alabama.

The Northern Pintail is characterized by its long neck, pointed tail, and yellow-green bill and head. 

It is one of the most common water birds in Alabama and can be seen in open water areas such as lakes, marshes, and ponds.

It is most active during the breeding season in late spring and summer and can often be seen in pairs or small flocks.

The Northern Pintail is a strong flier with a wingspan up to 3 feet wide. Its diet consists of aquatic invertebrates, grasses, and grains.

4. Northern Shoveler

The Northern Shoveler is one of Alabama’s most common types of water birds. It is easily recognizable by its large bill, which filters small food items from the water. 

The Northern Shoveler breeds in areas of shallow, freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes throughout Alabama.

The males have a greenish-black head and neck, while the females are browner with white breasts and a grayish-green back. 

These water birds in Alabama feed on various aquatic invertebrates and seeds, and they can often be seen in large flocks in the winter months.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Northern Shoveler in Alabama, you will surely be impressed by its unique bill shape and beautiful plumage!

5. Blue-Winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal is a small waterfowl species native to North America. They are usually found in shallow wetlands, marshes, and ponds. 

They have a distinctive black-and-white head pattern and a distinctive yellow line near their eyes. They have a blue patch on their wings, which is the source of their name.

During the winter season, they can be seen migrating south to Alabama in large flocks, typically between October and April.

These types of water birds in Alabama are a great addition to any wildlife-viewing experience as they offer beautiful color and graceful movements while they feed and nest.

6. Green-Winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) is a small species of dabbling duck that can be found in Alabama.

It is the smallest and most abundant of the North American dabbling ducks. Green-winged teal breeds throughout Alabama during the spring months and are a common sight in wetlands and shallow lakes. 

Males have a green head, yellow eyes, and a gray body with a white speculum, while females have brownish-gray plumage with two light stripes running down the side of their necks. Both genders have black beaks and yellow feet.

This species is often seen in small groups and pairs but can also be found in large flocks when migrating or wintering.

7. American Bittern

The American Bittern is a species of wading bird found in the state of Alabama. This species is quite large, measuring up to 45 inches in length and weighing up to 4 pounds. 

Its buffy-brown plumage identifies it with spots and streaks, which helps it to blend into the marshy wetlands where it typically lives. Its diet consists of small fish, amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates. 

The American Bittern is most active during the night and early morning hours, making it difficult to spot. Its call is loud and easily recognizable, with a distinctive “pump-er-lunk” sound. 

They often form large congregations during the spring and are more easily spotted.

These types of water birds in Alabama can be seen throughout Alabama, particularly in wetlands and marshes near the coast.

8. Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is next on our list of types of water birds in Alabama. It is a common sight along Alabama’s many rivers and streams and in its marshlands and wetlands. 

This majestic bird can grow up to four feet tall, and its wingspan can reach up to six feet across. It has a long, S-shaped neck and distinctive gray plumage.

It has a white head with a black crown, yellow eyes, and long legs that it uses to wade through shallow water to capture fish. 

They are often seen standing on the shoreline or perched in trees. The Great Blue Heron can be spotted throughout Alabama all year round, as they are permanent state residents.

9. Snow Goose

The Snow Goose is a common winter visitor in Alabama, often spotted in the open fields and wetlands of the southeastern United States.

It has a white body with black wingtips, and it can be seen flying in large flocks over the state. 

During the breeding season, these birds often nest in small colonies near the water and on beaches.

In the spring and summer months, they can be found in marshes, lakes, and ponds, where they feed on aquatic vegetation.

During the fall and winter, they migrate to the warmer regions of the state and are often seen in large numbers.

10. Canada Goose

The Canada Goose is a popular water bird in the state of Alabama. It is often seen around lakes, ponds, rivers, and coastal areas. 

The Canada Goose has a long neck, black head, white cheek patches, and a white patch at the base of its neck. Its body is dark brown with white stripes along its wings and tail. 

During the summer, Canada Geese can be seen in large flocks flying to and from their nesting grounds in V-formations.

During the winter months, they migrate south to warmer climates where food is more abundant.

11. Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser is a medium-sized waterfowl species that can be found throughout Alabama. It is a diving duck that prefers quiet, shallow wetlands and lakes. 

They have an unmistakable crest on their heads, making them easy to spot. In addition to its striking headgear, the Hooded Merganser has a beautiful dark green-brown body and white spots covering the wings.

Its diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, insects, and aquatic plants. 

These types of water birds in Alabama can often be seen in small flocks near shorelines or swimming solo among reeds and vegetation.

To see one in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring sight that should not be missed!

12. Wood Duck

The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is a beautiful, colorful species of duck native to Alabama.

The male has a distinctive iridescent crest with a green, purple, and blue sheen to its feathers, while the female has an orange-brown crest and mottled feathers.

Wood Ducks can be found in the freshwater swamps, marshes, and ponds of Alabama, where they search for food among the lily pads and other aquatic vegetation.

The Wood Ducks feed on insects, small fish, and aquatic plants. 

They are also known to nest in cavities of trees, making them one of the few duck species to do so.

Wood Ducks types of water birds in Alabama are important for conservation as their populations have declined due to habitat destruction.

13. Bufflehead

The Bufflehead is a small sea duck that can be found in Alabama in the fall and winter months. This duck has a distinctive rounded head and a black-and-white patterned body. 

It feeds on small aquatic creatures, such as crustaceans and insects. These types of water birds in Alabama are usually seen in small flocks and often inhabit shallow bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds. 

During migration, they may also stop at coastal wetlands or mudflats.

The Bufflehead is one of the most common ducks in Alabama during the winter, making it a sight to behold when looking out over a lake.

14. Green Heron

The Green Heron is also on our list of types of water birds in Alabama. This bird is small and has green-black iridescent plumage.

It has a long, thin neck and a white line running from its forehead to the nape of its neck. Its bill is sharp and pointed, and it uses it to fish for its prey.

The Green Heron can be seen near ponds, streams, lakes, and wetlands. It is an excellent fisherman and catches many types of small fish and other aquatic life.

During the breeding season, the Green Heron builds nests near water sources and lays up to five eggs.

They can be seen perched on branches overhanging water or wading through shallow waters in search of food.

15. Great Egret

The Great Egret is one of Alabama’s most common and easily identified Types of water birds. With its long S-curved neck, white feathers, and yellow bill, it is unmistakable. 

Great Egrets can be seen standing in shallow waters of ponds, marshes, and lakes. They are also often found along the coastal areas of the state. 

The Great Egret is an opportunistic feeder and will feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. It will hunt by standing still, waiting for its prey, or actively chasing down a meal. 

In the summer months, these birds breed in colonies in trees near water. They will build a platform of sticks and lay 2 to 5 eggs at a time.

Great Egrets are beautiful types of water birds in Alabama to watch in their natural habitats.

16. Cattle Egret

The Cattle Egret is a species of heron that can be found in Alabama. It is a white bird with a yellow bill and black legs and feet. 

The Cattle Egret lives mainly in wetlands near rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds. They feed on small animals, insects, and aquatic invertebrates. 

During the breeding season, they build large nests in trees near water sources and lay eggs from April to July.

This species is one of Alabama’s most widespread types of water birds and can be seen throughout the year.

17. Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret is a large white heron found in marshes, wetlands, and other shallow waters throughout Alabama.

They have black legs and feet, yellow eyes, and yellow tufts of feathers on the back of their heads. 

These types of water birds in Alabama feed on small fish, crustaceans, and amphibians that they catch in their beaks.

They often hunt for food in flocks or pairs and can be seen flying near bodies of water.

They are one of the most commonly spotted types of water birds in Alabama and can be seen around lakes, ponds, rivers, and other bodies of water.

18. Sandhill Crane

The Sandhill Crane is a medium-sized bird that can be found in areas across the United States, including Alabama.

This large species has a gray body and bright red forehead, making it easy to spot in open grassy wetlands. 

They forage for food on the ground and can sometimes be seen along roadsides or near large bodies of water.

Sandhill Cranes are known for their courting dance, which involves bowling, jumping, and tossing twigs and vegetation. 

They build large nests in trees or shrubs and lay two eggs, which take about four weeks to hatch.

In Alabama, these types of water birds in Alabama typically arrive in late winter and early spring and leave by October.

19. White-Faced Ibis

The White-faced Ibis is a stunning species of water bird that can be found in Alabama.

This colorful bird has a characteristic white face and an iridescent sheen to its feathers, ranging from gray to dark green. 

It feeds mainly on aquatic invertebrates, insects, small amphibians, and sometimes even lizards.

The White-faced Ibis breeds in large wetlands such as marshes, swamps, and floodplains and can be seen in the summer months in Alabama.

This beautiful water bird species is a welcome sight to any nature enthusiast.

20. White Ibis

The White Ibis is a large wading bird that can be found in Alabama. It has a white body with black wing tips and a long down-curved bill. 

This bird species prefers wetland habitats and coastal areas but can also be found in shallow freshwater habitats. It can be seen foraging in pairs or in large flocks during the breeding season. 

Its diet consists of invertebrates such as snails, small crabs, and aquatic insects. The White Ibis is considered an important indicator of the health of wetlands and coastal areas, as its presence indicates a healthy environment.

21. Common Loon

The Common Loon is a popular species of water bird found in Alabama. It is identified by its black and white feathers, red eyes, and distinctive call. 

Common Loons can be found in freshwater and saltwater habitats, such as lakes, rivers, bays, and coasts.

They are most commonly seen during the breeding season from spring to late summer. 

During the winter, they migrate to the Gulf Coast and other areas of the Southeast for food and shelter.

Common Loon types of water birds in Alabama prefer to feed on small fish, frogs, and insects, which makes them an important predator in the aquatic food chain.

22. American Coot

Unique waterfowl known as American Coots are extremely common types of water birds in Alabama in Alabama.

They resemble ducks at first look, but they are actually more closely related to sandhill cranes. 

The absence of webbed feet allows American Coots to move about on the ground pretty well.

They are excellent swimmers, so don’t let this fact deceive you into believing they can’t swim.

They can move through the water more quickly because of the skin lobes on each of their lengthy toes.

23. Pied-Billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe is Last on our list of types of water birds in Alabama, which are small, bulky, and nearly tailless aquatic birds; with short, broad bills. Primarily brown, The beak of breeding adults has a vertical black stripe.

In Alabama, freshwater marshes, lakes, and slow-moving rivers are home to these common waterbirds.

From a distance, they resemble a duck, but up close, you can tell they have a blocky-looking head and a short, bulky bill.

Pied-billed Grebes are skilled divers who consume various insects, fish, and crustaceans. 

They have almost perfect adaptations for living in the water. Therefore, you won’t see them often on land.

But the price of their aquatic prowess is that they walk rather awkwardly on land and fly fairly slowly.

Pied-billed Even their eggs are not laid on land by grebes! Instead, they often build a nest out of dead plants that are formed like a bowl and rest directly on the floating foliage.

As a side note, they also have adorable infants with adorable black and white faces.

These types of water birds in Alabama frequently conceal themselves in thick vegetation, making them difficult to see.

Finding one is frequently made simpler by listening to their distinctive sounds.

A loud, wailing”kuk-kuk-kuk-kaow-kaow” call that slows down toward the finish is the most typical.


Alabama is a great destination for birdwatchers, as it’s home to many water birds. The state has a wide array of different species. 

Above, we have explored the different types of water birds in Alabama and what makes them unique.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply looking for a way to appreciate nature, our post has provided insight into the various water birds that call Alabama home.

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