• Photo by: John Dersham

    Little River Canyon

    National Preserve Alabama

Water Birds

Blue-winged Teal - They can be identified by the large gray-blue patch seen on the upper wing while it is in flight. Its small size and fast, erratic flying pattern make it a challenge for hunters. They usually stick to very shallow water, snatching food items from the surface of the water. They swim with their heads partially submerged. Adult size is 15.5 inches long with a wingspan of 23 inches.

Canada Goose - In a pattern biologists call "assortative mating," birds of both males and females tend to choose mates of a similar size. The black head and neck with white "chinstrap" distinguish the Canada Goose from all other goose species (except for the Barnacle Goose). This is the largest wild goose ever recorded of any species. The life span in the wild ranges 10–24 years. Adult size is 29-44 inches with a wingspan of 50-67 inches.

Great Blue Heron - Herons catch prey by walking slowly, or standing still for long periods of time and waiting for fish or other animals to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. Their prey is swallowed whole. They have been known to choke to death on prey that is too large. Adult size is 3.2 to 4.5 feet with a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.6 feet.

Green Heron - The Green Heron's call is a loud and sudden kyow; it also makes a series of more subdued kuk calls. During courtship, the male gives a raah-rahh call with wide-open bill, makes noisy wingbeats and whoom-whoom-whoom calls in flight, and sometimes calls roo-roo to the female before landing again. While sitting, an aaroo-aaroo courtship call is also given. Adult size is 16-18 inches with a wingspan of 25-27 inches.

Killdeer - Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even at night.The chicks are able to move around right after hatching. The killdeer will pretend to have a broken wing to distract predators from the nest. Adult size is 7-11 inches with a wingspan of 18-19 inches.

Sandhill Crane - The Sandhill Crane does not breed until it is two to seven years old. It can live up to the age of 20. Mated pairs stay together year round, and migrate south as a group with their offspring. Mated pairs of cranes engage in "unison calling." The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every single call of the male. Adult size is 47-48 inches with a wingspan of 6-8 feet.

Spotted Sandpiper - The female is the one who establishes and defends the territory. The male takes the primary role in parental care, incubating the eggs and taking care of the young. One female may lay eggs for up to four different males at a time. Adult size if 7-8 inches with a wingspan of 14-16 inches.

Wilson's Snipe - The long bill is flexible; the tips can be opened and closed with no movement at the base of the bill. Sensory pits at the tip of the bill allow the snipe to feel its prey deep in the mud. The hollow, low whistled sound called "winnowing" is used by the male to defend his territory and attract a mate. The sound is produced by air flowing over the outstretched tail feathers with each beat of their wings. Adult size is 10-13 inches with a wingspan of 16-18 inches.

Wood Duck - After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 290 feet without injury. Adult size is 18-22 inches with a wingspan of 26-29 inches.

Did You Know?

Caddis Fly

Little River Canyon National Preserve has six endemic species of caddisfly. These are aquatic insects that are clean water indicators.