Coastal Alabama is a birdwatcher’s paradise. There are tons of different species to spot and catalog. Avid birdwatchers flock to the area because it is home to such a wide variety of avians. Shorebird identification for some of the most common species:
• Great Blue
The great blue heron is nearly four feet long and has a
wingspan of about five feet. These wading birds are commonly found on the
shoreline of open water. They are the largest of all of the herons found in
The call of the great blue heron is very distinctive. The sound is
reminiscent of a gigantic frog croaking. Herons are more vocal when it is
For the most part, the great blue heron feeds on small fish, crabs, shrimp,
rodents, small mammals and even birds. They usually swallow their food whole and
occasionally will choke trying to consume something that is too big.
Pelicans are large water birds that have long, pouched bills. They are good
swimmers as they use their strong, little legs and webbed toes to propel
themselves through the water. The tail of a Pelican is squared off and short
with about two dozen feathers. The wingspan is large and the breast muscles are
strong which aid in their ability to glide and soar.
A pelican’s diet is mostly fish but they will eat crustaceans and frogs.
Though a rarity, they will occasionally consume small birds. Pelicans will
generally search for food in large groups. They will chase schools of fish
toward the shore and scoop them up for a quick meal. Pelicans will also catch
fish by piercing the fish with their bills. They will then pop it into the air
and catch the fish in the air and slide it down into the gullet.
The killdeer is technically a plover and it is customarily found near the
shore. They will also congregate in large, grassy fields such as golf courses
and football fields. They eat insects and they stir up the bugs by running
around in the grass. Killdeer have the typical characteristics of all plovers.
Their bodies are slim and lean with long tail feathers that end in a point. They
have round heads with short bills and large eyes. They are tawny colored with a
white breast. The breast has two bands of black on it. The face has black and
white markings. The rear area of the killdeer is orange in color.
Oystercatchers are wading birds. The feathering is usually solid black or
black to brown with a white breast. They have large and long bills that are
either red or orange. These birds are noisy. By noisy, I mean incredibly loud
and boisterous and they can be very annoying.
The diet of the oystercatcher is shockingly varied. They will eat bugs,
worms, oysters, clams, crabs, mussels and fish too. When they’re hungry they
certainly have many options for finding dinner.
All oystercatchers are monogamous birds. They are very territorial and will
not only defend each other but their nesting site as well. Researchers studied a
pair of oystercatchers that stayed together and defended the same nesting area
for more than 20 years!