17 Amazing WHITE birds in Alabama! [Photos with ID Guide]




White Birds in Alabama

Which white bird did you see in Alabama? Was it an Egret? or an Ibis? or a Wood Stork? If you are looking for little help in identifying them, you have come to the right place.

Alabama is home to many fascinating white birds. And here, I have listed 17 different white bird species that you can see in Alabama.

Those 17 different bird species comprise 7 common white birds, 1 rare white bird, 4 white morphs of different birds, and 5 mostly white birds that are primarily white but have some other colors in plumage.

White Birds in Alabama (All-white Birds)

Here, I have listed 12 all-white birds that you can see in Alabama. Out of them, 11 are large white birds (larger than the size of a crow). Most of them are common birds in Alabama.

If you haven’t seen any of these yet, insert them to the top of the list. You should be able to tick them off in no time.

1. Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret - Common white bird
Adult Great Egret in America – Photo credit: Judy Gallagher /flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Great Egret (Quickly)

  • Body: All-white bird having a tall and thin body, larger in size than other egrets (about twice the size of the Cattle Egret), S-shaped long neck
  • Leg color: Black
  • Bill: Long dagger-shaped bill, Yellow color (Great Egrets in the Americas have yellow bills)

Great Egret forages in shallow ponds, lakes, rivers, and wetland habitats in search of small fish. They are often seen alone rather than in flocks. However, it breeds in colonies, mostly mixing with other egrets and herons.

Great Egrets are considered non-migrators or partial migrators when it migrates to their North American range. But, you can see them in south Alabama year-round. And, they can be seen in central regions in the breeding season and in north Alabama during migration.

2. Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret - a common white bird
Adult Snowy Egret – Photo credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren /Flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Snowy Egret (Quickly)

  • Body: All-white bird with S-shaped neck. During the breeding season, it gets long lacy plumes on the head, neck, and back.
  • Leg color: Black legs
  • Feet color: Bright yellow (non-breeding), Orange-red (breeding)
  • Bill: Black color bill with yellow (orange-red in breeding season) patch at the base of the bill

In the late 1800s, Snowy Egrets were hunted near extinction for their feathers. But now, they are fairly common widespread species across the United States. And, you can often see them mixing with other egrets in estuarine and freshwater habitats.

Snowy Egrets are common in a variety of wetlands and often mix with other egrets. When searching for food, it uses wing-flicking, foot-stirring, and foot-probing to get its prey moving and actively hunts prey.

You can see them in the central and southern regions of Alabama during the breeding season and in northern regions during migration.

3. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Cattle Egret - A common white bird
Cattle Egret – Photo credit: Derek Keats /flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Cattle Egret (Quickly)

  • Body: All-white bird having comparatively shorter neck and legs. In the breeding season, adults get Oakley yellow feathers on the crown, chest, and back
  • Leg color: Dark (close to black) in the non-breeding season and yellow or reddish in the breeding season
  • Bill: Stout dagger-shaped bill. Color is yellow (non-breeding) or red-orange (breeding)

Cattle Egrets are grassland species that rarely get their feet wet. It is mainly seen in dry habitats. Often it associates with livestock, feeding insects exposed from their feet or following tractors in fields.

Cattle Egrets are partial migrators and can be seen year-round close to the southern border of Alabama. And you can see them during the breeding season in the rest of the regions of Alabama.

4. White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

White Ibis - a white bird with long beaks
White Ibis – Photo credit: cuatrok77 /flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify White Ibis (Quickly)

  • Body: Adults are white with a little black on the wingtips. It has red facial skin.
  • Bill: Long downward-curved orange-red bill (distinctive feature)
  • Leg color: Pinkish-red

The White Ibis is a very distinctive bird, with its long, curved beak and white plumage. It forages in shallow wetlands and salt marshes. It can be frequently seen flying in groups. And it nests in large colonies.

White Ibises are not shy birds and can often be seen close to humans. Females are similar to males in appearance but smaller in size. And also, their bills are less curved than males. However, immatures are half brown and half white.

You can see them year-round in southern parts of Alabama and during migration in central regions.

5. Juvenile Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Juvenile Little Blue Heron - a common white bird
Juvenile Little Blue Heron – Photo credit: Kelly Colgan Azar/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Juvenile Little Blue Heron (Quickly)

  • Body: They are similar to Snowy Egret. All-white plumage, S-shape neck, and small in size. Even though they have black wing tips, it is unnoticeable.
  • Bill: Only tip of the bill is black (Snowy Egret’s entire bill is black), Dagger-shaped bill
  • Leg color: Pale greenish (Snowy Egrets have black legs)

Juvenile Little Blue Herons can be seen in open wetlands in groups. Its preferred foraging habitats include shallow marshes, lagoons, and other shallow fresh or salt water. When nesting, they mix with other wading species groups.

Similar to Snowy Egrets, you can see Little Blue Herons in north Alabama during migration and in central and southern regions of Alabama during the breeding season.

6. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

American White Pelican - Common white bird
Adult American White Pelican (Breeding)

How to identify American White Pelican (Quickly)

  • Body: Large white body and white head with black outer wing feathers
  • Bill: Huge long bill with an expandable throat pouch. Breeding adults have a ridge on the bill. Bill is orange-yellow in breeding birds and turns duller yellow in the nonbreeding season.

American White Pelican forages usually in groups on lakes, and slow reservoirs. It swims together and beats its wings in coordinated movements to drive fish into shallow water. They dip their bills simultaneously into the water to catch fish.

Most of its population has concentrated in just a small number of large colonies in isolated wetland complexes.

American White Pelicans can fly long distances and it is one of the largest birds to do so. It spends winters in coastal regions from California and Texas to Mexico and Central America.

But, if you want to see them in Alabama, you can check in south regions in the non-breeding season.

7. Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana)

Wood Stork - a white bird with long bill
Wood Stork – Photo credit: Liam Lysaght and cuatrok77/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Wood Stork (Quickly)

  • Body: Head and upper neck of the Wood Stork are featherless and blackish in color. It has a white body with black flight feathers.
  • Bill: Long downward-curved dark bill
  • Leg color: Blackish gray

Wood Stork is a large white wading bird. And, it is the only stork that breeds in North America. They breed in Florida to North Carolina.

Wood Storks mostly forage in coastal areas, swamps, marshes, and forested freshwater. When feeding, it stirs the water bottom from its feet and feels the movement of fish and prey from the bill.

You can see Wood Storks in south Alabama in the non-breeding season.

8. Whooping Crane (Grus Americana)

Whooping Crane - an endangered bird
Two adults and one juvenile (brownish head) Whooping Cranes – Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Whooping Crane (Quickly)

  • Body: Pure white tall body with a long neck. Distinctive dark red mask behind the bill.
  • Bill: Long dark straight bill. Behind the bill, it has a distinctive red crown and red patch.
  • Legs: Long gray-black legs

Whooping Crane is the rarest of 15 crane species worldwide. And, it is one of two native cranes in North America. In the mid-20th century, it was endangered with only a few dozen birds.

Whooping Crane prefers marshy habitats. They are usually in family groups of three or more.

You can see them in north Alabama in winter. Since it is an endangered bird species it is a rare sight in Alabama. 

9. Great Blue Heron (White Morph) (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (White Morph) - a white bird
Great Blue Heron (White Morph) – Photo credit: Under the same moon…/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Great Blue Heron (White Morph) (Quickly)

  • Body: All white plumage. Large body with an S-shaped long neck.
  • Bill: yellow heavy bill
  • Legs: Grayish yellow in color (This helps to separate them from Great Egrets that have entire black legs)

The white morph of the Greate Blue Heron (also known as the Great White Heron) has entirely white plumage. Its appearance is quite similar to Great Egret.

But, Great White Heron is larger in size and has grayish-yellow color legs whereas the Great Egret has entire black legs with yellow feet. Additionally, Great White Herons have heavy larger bills than Great Egrets.

Great White Herons can be seen in wetlands such as marshes to swamps, but primarily in saltwater habitats. You can see them year-round in Alabama.

10. Snow Goose (White Morph) (Anser caerulescens)

Snow Goose (White morph) - a common snow goose
Adult White Morph of Snow Goose – Photo credit: Judy Gallagher/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Snow Goose (White Morph) (Quickly)

  • Body: It has a medium size white body with a long neck. The head is white and looks extended. Wing tips are black. There is a yellowish strain on the face in most of them.
  • Bill: Black patch on the pink long bill
  • Legs: Pink legs

There are two completely different color morphs of Snow Goose; blue and white. Since white morph is more common, you have a greater chance to see them.

Marshes, ponds, bays, and agricultural fields are usual habitats of Snow Goose. When migrating, they fly as flocks in thousands in number. They breed in the arctic tundra, near Hudson Bay. They winter in coastal and inland areas towards the south.

In Alabama, you can see them in west of the state.

11. Ross’s Goose (White Morph) (Anser rossii)

Ross's Goose (white morph)
Ross’s Goose (White Morph) – Photo credit: Andrew C, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to identify Ross’s Goose (White Morph) (Quickly)

  • Body: Smaller white body with black wing tips. Shorter neck.
  • Bill: Short triangular-shaped reddish bill. Base edge of the bill is straight (quite distinctive)
  • Legs: Reddish pink legs

Ross’s Goose also has blue and white color morphs. And also, similar to Snow Goose, blue form is rare and white form is comparatively common.

Lakes, Marshes, and ponds are the preferred habitats of Ross’s Goose in migration and winter. And, they breed in the arctic tundra. Mostly, they can be seen as flocks mixing with Snow Gooses.

Ross’s Goose are rare in Alabama. But if you are eager to see them in Alabama, best place to go is north boarder of the state during the non-breeding season.

12. Rock Pigeon (White Morph) (Columba livia)

Rock Pigeon - white morph
Rock Pigeon (White Morph) – Photo credit: Jevgenijs Slihto/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Rock Pigeon (White Morph) (Quickly)

  • Body: Size is a little smaller than crows. Appeared tubby due to a heavy chest. White plumage in white morphs.
  • Bill: Dark shorter bills
  • Legs: Short reddish legs

Rock Pigeons have widely spread all over the continent. Among the most common blue-gray pigeon with black wing bars, you can spot other varieties with variable plumage in colors such as black, white, rusty-red, and variations of those.

Usually, they can be seen in many urban setups. Flocks of pigeons in public places such as public squares (eating waste food) are not a rare sight in most cities. But, their original habitat is sea cliffs.

Birds in Alabama That Looks Mostly White (Primarily White)

Some birds have plumage mixed with two or more colors. But when they are in flight or sight from far, their primary color is prominent and birders, especially beginners, tend to identify them from it.

Hence, I have provided bird identification guides for birds whose primary color is white and appear to be white but not all-white. These are mostly white birds that can be seen in Alabama.

13. Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

Ring-billed Gull - a mostly white bird
Adult Ring-billed Gull (Nonbreeding) – Photo credit: David Slater/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Ring-billed Gull (Quickly)

  • Bill: Black band on yellow bill (most distinguishable feature)
  • Body: Medium-size gulls. Breeding adults have pure white heads while nonbreeding adults have brown streaks on white heads. Their belly, breast, and underwing are white. They have a gray back and white spots on black wing tips.
  • Legs: Pale yellow (nonbreeding) or yellowish or greenish (breeding)

Ring-billed Gull is one of the most common birds in North America. You may have probably seen them even in an urban setup.

Ring-billed Gulls can be mostly seen in lakes, ponds, rivers, and beaches. But, it is not rare sight if you see them scavenge in parking lots.

In Alabama, you can see them during the non-breeding season in south and southwest regions and in migration in northern parts.

14. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Herring Gull - a mostly white bird
Herring Gull – Photo credit: John Haslam/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Herring Gull (Quickly)

  • Bill: Large yellow bill with a red spot (distinguishable feature)
  • Body: Large-size gulls. Breeding adults have pure white heads while nonbreeding adults have brown streaks on white heads and necks. Their belly, breast, and underwing are white. They have a gray back and white spots on black wing tips.
  • Legs: Pink in color

Herring Gulls are large size gulls that are also referred to mostly as ‘Seagulls’.

Herring Gulls occur in coastal areas and islands, near water bodies such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. They breed in the northeastern US and Canada and migrate to the southern region in winter. Therefore, look for them in winter in Alabama.

15. Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Forster’s Tern - a mostly white bird
Adult Forster’s Tern (Breeding) – Photo credit: Judy Gallagher/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Forster’s Tern (Quickly)

  • Body: Medium-size Tern. They have pale white feathers. Breeding adults have black caps and napes. Nonbreeding adults have a unique black ear patch. They have a deeply forked tail.
  • Bill: Orange-red bill with dark tip (breeding) or entirely black bill (non-breeding)

Forster’s Tern is a medium-sized tern quite similar to Common Tern. But it has a comparatively long tail than Common Tern.

To find food, Forster’s Terns hover over bays, ponds, and lakes. They dive headfirst into the water to catch small fish. And they nest in shallow water marshes. Usually, they can be seen in small colonies.

In Alabama, you can see them in the non-breeding season.

16. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

Caspian Tern is a mostly white bird
Adult Caspian Tern (Breeding) – Photo credit: Jean and Fred Hort/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Caspian Tern (Quickly)

  • Body: Largest Tern. Looks quite similar to Royal Tern. Light gray back and white underparts are common in both Terns. But Caspian Tern does not get a white forehead. Instead, they have streaked dark crown in nonbreeding season. Breeding adults have slightly crested black caps.
  • Bill: Red strong bill. Thicker than Royal Tern. And also there’s a dark mark near the tip of the bill.
  • Legs: Black

Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world and is well known for its aggressive behavior. It tends to steal prey from other seabirds and even hunts chicks and snatches eggs of other gulls and terns.

Even though Caspian Terns occur in all states of the US, its sight is not so common. Coastal and inland lakes and rivers are their typical habitats. During migration, they can be seen near marshes and lakes.

So, you can spot them throughout Alabama during migration.

17. Common Tern (Bubo scandiacus)

Common Tern - A mostly white bird
Adult Common Tern (Breeding) – – Photo credit: Jeremy Halls/flickr/cc by 4.0

How to identify Common Tern (Quickly)

  • Body: Medium-size Tern. They have gray upper parts and white under parts. Breeding adults have black caps and napes. Nonbreeding adults have white foreheads (They don’t have black ear patches like in Forster’s Terns).
  • Bill: Orange-red bill with dark tip (breeding) or darker bill (non-breeding)
  • Legs: Orange-red

Common Tern is one of the most widespread terns in North America. It is quite similar to Forster’s Tern. But, Forster’s Tern has paler wings and longer tails than Common Terns.

Typical habitats of Common Tern are large lakes, beaches, and open ocean. But, you can see them near water bodies anywhere during migration. So, in Alabama too, you can look for them in waterbodies in migration.

More Facts about White Birds in Alabama!

You can check out the best region in Alabama and the best time of the year to spot each of the 17 white birds listed. And, if you prefer more range data, check in All About Birds.

And also I have mentioned the length (tip of the bill to tail length) and the wingspan and food of each bird.

White BirdLengthWingspanFoodPlace and time of the year to see them in Alabama
Great Egretabout 39 inchesabout 6 ft Small fish, aquatic insects, frogs, crayfishSouthern border – year-round
Southern regions – breeding
Northern regions – Migration
Snowy Egretabout 24 inchesabout 42 inchesAquatic insects and small fish, amphibians, and snakesSouthern border – year-round
Southern regions – breeding
Central to northern regions – Migration
Cattle Egretabout 20 inchesabout 31 inchesInsects, spiders, frogsSouthern border – year-round
Other regions – breeding
White Ibisabout 25 inchesabout 38 inchesAquatic insects, crustaceans, fish, frogsSouth Alabama – year-round
Central – migration
Juvenile Little Blue Heronabout 24 inchesabout 39 inchesCrayfish, crabs, small fish, insects, and amphibiansSouth Alabama – year-round
Central – breeding
Northern regions – migration
American White Pelican4.5 – 5.5 ft7.75 – 9.5 ftMainly small fish, small amphibiansCentral to southern regions – non-breeding
Wood Storkabout 39 inchesabout 5 ftFish, scrab, and insects (aquatic prey)South Alabama – non-breeding
Whooping Crane4 – 4.5 ftabout 7.25 ftInsects, small mammals, fish, fruits, seedsNortheast – winter
Great Blue Heron (White Morph)33 – 51 inches5.25 – 6.5 ftThey prefer fishThroughout Alabama – year-round
Snow Goose (White Morph)27 – 33 inches4.25 – 5.5 ftstems, leaves, seeds, and roots of different grass species in aquatic or terrestrial habitatsWest region – non-breeding
Ross’s Goose (White Morph)22 – 25 inchesabout 3.25 ftThey prefer grasses, and grainNorth border – non-breeding
Rock Pigeon (White Morph)11 – 14 inches20 – 26 inchesMostly seeds and fruits and discarded human food (in cities)Throughout Alabama – year-round
Ring-billed gull17 – 21.5 inches4 – 5 ftSmall fish, insects, earthworms, grains, and rodentsSouthwest and south regions – non-breeding
Other parts – migration
Herring Gull22 – 26 inches4 – 5 ftSmall fish, crustaceans, mollusks, wormsThroughout Alabama – non-breeding
Forster’s Tern13 – 14 inches29 – 32 inchesInsects and small fishThroughout Alabama – non-breeding
Caspian Tern18.5 – 21.5 inches4.25 – 5 ftFish, crabs, and barnacles. They rob prey from other birdsThroughout Alabama – migration
Common Tern12 – 14 inches30 – 31 inchesIt mainly eats fish but also prefers crustaceans, squid, and insectsThroughout Alabama – migration
More Facts about White Birds in Alabama

Wrapping Up…

If you are birding in Alabama, this article will be your best help to ID many white birds that occur during your birding adventures.

In this article, I have listed and given identification guides for 17 white birds in Alabama. Some of them are common white birds and some are rare.

Four of the listed birds are white morphs of different bird species. Several other listed birds are mostly white birds that are primarily white in color but have a mix of other colors in some areas of the body.

Additionally, I have given the best region and time of the year to see each white bird listed here. So, plan your trips accordingly to see maximum number of birds.

Let me know how many of the listed white birds you have seen and where you saw them.

Additionally, if you are planning your next birding trip, consider traveling to one of these 10 best countries for birding to see many birds in a single trip. And, if you are looking for improving as a professional birder, check out these 11 tips for improving birding skills.