As most of you know, the great state of Alabama’s bird is known as the Yellowhammer. The problem is that our bird is only known as the Yellowhammer as a nickname. Its proper name is the Yellow-shafted Common Flicker. A good bit of info on this little guy can be found here at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. For those that want it in a nutshell, here is some info from their article:
“The common flicker is more terrestrial in habit than are other woodpeckers. On the ground, it has an awkward hopping movement, but this does not slow its ground feeding. It is commonly observed feeding on lawns and is, perhaps, the most obvious woodpecker of the city and suburban areas.”
‘The common flicker is the State Bird of Alabama. Alabama has been known as the “Yellowhammer State” since the Civil War. The yellowhammer nickname was applied to the Confederate soldiers from Alabama when a company of young cavalry soldiers from Huntsville, under the command of Rev. D.C. Kelly, arrived at Hopkinsville, KY, where Gen. Forrest’s troops were stationed. The officers and men of the Huntsville company wore fine, new uniforms, whereas the soldiers who had long been on the battlefields were dressed in faded, worn uniforms. On the sleeves, collars and coattails of the new calvary troop were bits of brilliant yellow cloth. As the company rode past Company A , Will Arnett cried out in greeting “Yellowhammer, Yellowhammer, flicker, flicker!” The greeting brought a roar of laughter from the men and from that moment the Huntsville soldiers were spoken of as the “yellowhammer company.” The term quickly spread throughout the Confederate Army and all Alabama troops were referred to unofficially as the “Yellowhammers.”
So there you go. Our state bird was named for a fancy pants company of soldiers that Forest Gump’s namesake made fun of for having new nice uniforms while everyone else was lucky to have one shoe. It’s also a wood pecker that has an “awkward hopping movement”. This reminds us of the dancing moves we pull out when bourboned up after football games at Egans.
The problem, however, is that if you just Google “Yellow Hammer,” you are taken to a completely different bird. This Yellow Hammer, or in Latin, Emberiza citrinella, is a passerine bird in the bunting family. They only live in Europe and Asia. They look way more like a Pokemon than a bird befitting the title of State Bird of Alabama. Also, the whole not being found in the state or even the whole country is a big reason this bird is not our state bird. I mean, had you rather have a woodpecker or a bunting? In bird school, I bet buntings get their asses handed to them all the time by woodpeckers. This Google confusion leads many mishaps by well meaning individuals who want to pay homage to our state bird. We feel it our duty as proud Alabamians to act as auditors of the bird and educators to end this innocent but silly mistake. If someone takes the time to use the bird, they most likely have all the intentions in the world of using it as a point of pride. So if you’ve you have done this in the past, know we are not trying to be dicks. We just want you to know.
The Civil Wars: Auction for Alabama is a great cause that is raising a ton of money for tornado relief . We highly recommend checking it out. Their poster is beautifully designed and features many things our state is know for: a rocket, a football player, a vinyl record, a Camelia and you guessed it, the wrong Yellowhammer. I know these guys are really doing great work and are from Alabama and are raising much needed money. So once again, we are not trying to chap their ass but just to use as an illustration of how the proper bird get missed sometime. Now, go there and bid on some cool stuff, we just did.
If you’ve been a WTC fan for awhile, then you know how much we love the Dexateens. They played on our first Brews Cruise, recorded videos from our world wide headquarters (you have to wait till the :40 mark to see the studio in all her glory) and have generally made us proud of Tuscaloosa for years now. They also have about as much state pride as we do believing that if people look past the stereotypes, there is a lot of good going on here in Alabama. So that is why is was really hard to tell them that a shirt they produced was of the dreaded limy Pokemon than our awkward hopping, bad-ass ground feeding woodpecker of Alabama. Please good people of Alabama know your bird.