The Yellowhammer State

Alabama State Nicknames


Northern flicker woodpecker (yellowhammer)

Northern Flicker (yellowhammer woodpecker) showing a glimpse of bright yellow feathers under tail and wings; photo by Nature's Pic's Online (use permitted with attribution / share alike)

Nicknames for Alabama

Alabama does not have an official nickname, but has been called "The Yellowhammer State" since the civil war when a company of Alabama soldiers wore uniforms trimmed with yellow cloth and were nicknamed Yellowhammers. "Yellowhammer" is the common name given to the northern flicker woodpecker (also the state bird of Alabama) because of the bright yellow feathers beneath its wings and tail.

The Cotton State

Alabama is also called "The Cotton State" (Alabama is centrally located in the cotton belt and cotton production was a major influence in the growth and culture of the state).

The Heart of Dixie

Probably the most familiar nickname for Alabama is "The Heart of Dixie" (originally because Montgomery was the first capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War).

Stars Fell on Alabama

The phrase "Stars Fell on Alabama" was introduced to Alabama license plates in 2002, with the familiar Heart of Dixie emblem reduced to a small size (a 1951 law requires Alabama license plates to display the words "Heart of Dixie" within a heart shape).

"Stars Fell on Alabama," refers to the 1934 song written by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins and made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and other artists. It also refers to an actual meteor shower that was seen across Alabama on November 12-13, 1833. Quote from then-Governor Don Siegelman: "It is my hope that this design will help send a message that stars have indeed fallen on Alabama and continue to fall on Alabama." Stars Fell on Alabama is also the title of a book by Carl Carmer.



Alabama license plate with "Heart of Dixie" emblem; photo by Norm Russo (used by permission).
Alabama Licence Plate: Stars Fell on Alabama