Top 15 Types Of Birds In Tennessee (with Photos)

Nestled in the heart of the United States, Tennessee is home to a diverse array of bird species. From majestic raptors soaring through the skies to melodious songbirds flitting among the trees, the Volunteer State offers a rich tapestry of avian life.

But what makes Tennessee truly remarkable is the unique blend of habitats that attract an astonishing variety of birds. Whether you are an avid birder or simply curious about the feathered inhabitants of this captivating state, join me as we embark on a journey to discover the captivating world of Tennessee's birds.

Bald Eagle

national symbol of america

The presence of the majestic Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in Tennessee is a testament to the state's diverse and thriving avian population. The bald eagle is a large raptor known for its striking white head and tail feathers, contrasting with its dark brown body. These birds are typically found near bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, where they can find their primary food source of fish. Bald eagles build large nests, known as aeries, in tall trees near their preferred habitat.

Bald eagle conservation efforts have been successful in Tennessee, as the population has seen a steady increase over the years. These efforts include habitat preservation, such as protecting nesting sites and ensuring a healthy ecosystem for their prey. Additionally, measures have been taken to reduce threats to bald eagles, such as the banning of harmful pesticides and the enforcement of laws against disturbance or harm to these protected birds.

Through these conservation efforts, the bald eagle has become a symbol of successful wildlife management in Tennessee.

American Robin

common north american songbird

With its vibrant orange-red breast and melodic song, the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a familiar sight and sound in Tennessee's urban and suburban areas. This medium-sized songbird is known for its distinctive appearance and behavior. The American Robin can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, parks, and even city streets. They prefer areas with open spaces and grassy lawns where they can forage for their diet, which consists mainly of insects, earthworms, and berries.

When it comes to nesting, the American Robin is known for its cup-shaped nests made of grass, twigs, and mud. They typically build their nests in trees, shrubs, or on man-made structures such as ledges and window sills. These birds are monogamous and often return to the same nesting site year after year.

In terms of migration, the American Robin exhibits an interesting behavior. While some individuals may stay in Tennessee throughout the year, many robins migrate south during the winter months in search of milder climates and more abundant food sources. They are known to form large flocks during migration and can be seen in fields and parks, feeding on berries and fruits.


Discussion Ideas American Robin
Habitat and nesting habits of American robin Medium-sized songbird found in various habitats, including urban areas
Migration patterns and behavior of robin Some individuals stay year-round, while others migrate south during winter

Northern Cardinal

bright red bird species

One of the most striking and iconic birds found in Tennessee is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). This bird is easily recognizable by its bright red plumage, crest, and black face mask. The Northern Cardinal is a year-round resident in Tennessee and can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, shrubby areas, and suburban gardens. It prefers areas with dense vegetation for nesting and foraging.

In terms of breeding behavior, the Northern Cardinal is monogamous and forms pairs that stay together throughout the year. The male is known for its melodious song, which it uses to defend its territory and attract mates. Breeding typically occurs from March to August, with the female building a cup-shaped nest made of twigs, leaves, and grass. She lays around 3-4 eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks until they fledge after about 10-12 days.

Eastern Bluebird

vibrant blue bird species

After exploring the fascinating breeding behaviors of the Northern Cardinal, a vibrant bird with its distinct red plumage, crest, and melodious song, it is now time to turn our attention to the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), a captivating species commonly found in Tennessee.

The Eastern Bluebird is a small thrush that measures around 6.3 to 7.9 inches in length. It is easily identifiable with its bright blue upperparts, reddish-brown breast, and white belly. This species prefers open woodlands, orchards, and meadows as its habitat.

Eastern Bluebirds construct their nests in tree cavities or nest boxes, lining them with fine grasses and feathers. They primarily feed on insects and berries, and during the breeding season, they also consume earthworms. Eastern Bluebirds are migratory birds, often moving southward during the winter months.

Due to habitat loss and competition for nesting sites with invasive species such as House Sparrows, conservation efforts have been undertaken to provide artificial nest boxes and protect their natural habitats. These efforts have played a crucial role in maintaining stable populations of Eastern Bluebirds in Tennessee.

Great Horned Owl

nocturnal predator with feathers

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), a formidable and majestic nocturnal predator, is a prominent avian species that can be found in Tennessee's diverse ecosystems. With its distinctive horn-like tufts of feathers and piercing yellow eyes, the Great Horned Owl is a captivating sight.

In terms of behavior, this owl species is known for its exceptional hunting abilities, silently swooping down upon unsuspecting prey with precise and deadly accuracy. Its diet consists of small mammals, birds, and sometimes even reptiles and amphibians.

As an adaptable species, the Great Horned Owl can thrive in a variety of habitats, from dense forests to open grasslands. They often nest in tall trees or even repurpose abandoned nests of other birds.

These adaptable hunters can be observed in Tennessee's woodlands, farmlands, and urban parks, making them a fascinating and integral part of the state's avian fauna.

Red-tailed Hawk

majestic bird of prey

Another remarkable avian species that can be found in Tennessee's diverse ecosystems is the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a majestic raptor known for its distinctive red tail feathers and impressive hunting prowess.

Red-tailed Hawks have a wide range of habitat preferences, making them adaptable to various environments across the state. They can be commonly found in open fields, grasslands, and forests, where they build their nests on high perches such as tree branches or cliffs. These hawks are known for their territorial behavior and can often be seen defending their nesting sites fiercely.

Red-tailed Hawks are skilled hunters, primarily feeding on small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. They employ a sit-and-wait hunting strategy, patiently scanning their surroundings from elevated perches before swooping down to capture their prey with their sharp talons.

With their soaring flight and piercing calls, Red-tailed Hawks are a captivating sight in Tennessee's skies.

Carolina Chickadee

small bird with distinctive markings

The Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis), a small songbird native to the southeastern United States, is an iconic avian species that can be found in the diverse ecosystems of Tennessee. This species is known for its distinctive black cap and bib, white cheeks, and grayish wings. Carolina Chickadees primarily inhabit deciduous and mixed forests, as well as woodland edges and suburban areas. They are commonly found in Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau, Appalachian Mountains, and Mississippi River floodplain regions.

Carolina Chickadees have a varied diet that consists mainly of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They are also known to consume seeds, berries, and nuts, especially during the winter months when insect availability is limited. These birds are active foragers, often observed hopping from branch to branch, probing crevices and foliage for food. Carolina Chickadees are known for their acrobatic feeding behavior, hanging upside down from twigs to extract insects. Their ability to adapt to various habitats and their resourcefulness in finding food make the Carolina Chickadee a successful and resilient species in Tennessee's avian community.

Carolina Chickadee Facts Description
Scientific Name Poecile carolinensis
Habitat Deciduous and mixed forests, woodland edges, suburban areas
Diet Insects, spiders, small invertebrates, seeds, berries, nuts

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

small bird with iridescent feathers

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is an exquisite, migratory bird species known for its vibrant plumage and remarkable aerial agility. These small birds are a common sight in Tennessee, where they can be found during the summer months.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are known for their impressive migration patterns, traveling thousands of miles each year between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Central America. During migration, these birds rely heavily on nectar as a source of energy. Their long, slender beaks are perfectly adapted for reaching deep into the flowers to extract nectar.

In addition to nectar, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also consume small insects and spiders, providing them with essential protein. The availability of nectar-rich flowers plays a crucial role in attracting and sustaining these beautiful birds during their stay in Tennessee.

Eastern Screech Owl

nocturnal bird with ear tufts

As we shift our focus to the Eastern Screech Owl, a nocturnal bird species found in Tennessee, we delve into the fascinating world of these small, elusive predators.

The Eastern Screech Owl is known for its ability to adapt to various habitats, making it a common sight across the state. They can be found in forests, woodlands, suburban areas, and even parks.

When it comes to nesting, Eastern Screech Owls prefer to make their homes in tree cavities, often utilizing abandoned woodpecker holes or natural hollows. They are known to line their nests with feathers, leaves, and other soft materials to provide insulation and comfort for their young.

In terms of behavior, Eastern Screech Owls are mostly solitary creatures, except during the breeding season when they form monogamous pairs. They are territorial and will fiercely defend their nesting sites from intruders.

In terms of feeding patterns, these owls are opportunistic hunters, preying on a variety of small mammals, birds, and insects. Their diet mainly consists of mice, voles, shrews, and insects like beetles and moths. They are skilled hunters, using their sharp talons and excellent hearing to locate and capture their prey.

The Eastern Screech Owl truly embodies the beauty and mystery of Tennessee's avian population.

Wood Duck

colorful duck with unique markings

Admired for its vibrant plumage and striking markings, the Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is a distinctive waterfowl species commonly found in the wetlands and wooded swamps of Tennessee. The wood duck's habitat consists of shallow freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshes surrounded by mature trees and dense vegetation. This species prefers areas with plenty of vegetation for cover and nesting sites, such as cypress swamps or bottomland hardwood forests.

Wood ducks are known for their unique breeding behavior. Unlike most ducks, they nest in tree cavities, sometimes using holes created by other birds or natural tree hollows. The female wood duck lays about 10 to 15 eggs and incubates them for approximately 30 days. Once the ducklings hatch, they jump from the tree cavity and make their way to the water, where they quickly start swimming and foraging for food.

Wood ducks are also notable for their elaborate courtship displays. Males will often bob their heads, stretch their necks, and emit soft whistling calls to attract females. They are highly social birds and can be seen in small groups or pairs, especially during the breeding season.

Carolina Wren

small bird with rusty plumage

The Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) is a small migratory bird species that can be found in the state of Tennessee. Known for its beautiful plumage and melodious song, the Carolina Wren is a common sight in the woodlands and suburban areas of Tennessee.

When it comes to nesting habits, the Carolina Wren builds its nests in various locations, including tree cavities, shrubs, birdhouses, and even abandoned man-made structures. The nests are typically made of twigs, leaves, and grass, and lined with feathers and soft materials. The female Carolina Wren takes the lead in constructing the nest, while the male assists by bringing materials.

In terms of diet preferences, the Carolina Wren is primarily insectivorous. It feeds on a wide range of insects, including beetles, spiders, caterpillars, and ants. It also consumes small fruits and berries when available. The Carolina Wren is known for its foraging behavior, hopping along the ground and probing crevices in search of food. Its strong bill allows it to extract insects from bark and foliage.

Northern Mockingbird

imitating bird with melody

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a well-known avian species frequently observed in the state of Tennessee due to its impressive vocal abilities and adaptive nature. This bird species is known for its remarkable ability to mimic the calls of other bird species, as well as various sounds it encounters in its environment, such as car alarms and cell phone ringtones.

The Northern Mockingbird is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 9-11 inches in length. It has a grayish-brown body with white patches on its wings and a long tail. Its diet primarily consists of insects, berries, and fruits.

When it comes to nesting habits, the Northern Mockingbird is highly territorial during the breeding season. They build their nests in dense shrubs or trees, using twigs, grass, and other plant materials. The female typically lays 3-5 eggs, which she incubates for about 12-13 days. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks, which fledge after approximately 11-14 days.

Table showcasing the discussion ideas about Northern Mockingbird:

Aspect Description
Vocal abilities Known for mimicking other bird species and various environmental sounds
Size Medium-sized bird, measuring about 9-11 inches in length
Diet Primarily feeds on insects, berries, and fruits
Nesting habits Builds nests in dense shrubs or trees using twigs, grass, and other plant materials
Reproduction Females lay 3-5 eggs, incubated for 12-13 days, with both parents sharing the responsibility of feeding
Territoriality Highly territorial during the breeding season
Fledging period Chicks fledge after approximately 11-14 days

The Northern Mockingbird's remarkable vocal abilities and adaptability make it a fascinating species to observe in the diverse ecosystems of Tennessee.

American Goldfinch

bright yellow bird species

Commonly found in Tennessee, the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a vibrant and captivating bird species known for its distinctive plumage and unique behaviors.

The American Goldfinch is primarily found in open fields, meadows, and grasslands, where it thrives in habitats with abundant vegetation, especially those with thistle plants. Their habitat preference is often associated with their diet, as they primarily feed on the seeds of various plants, including thistle.

During the breeding season, the American Goldfinch displays remarkable behaviors. Males are known for their bright yellow plumage, which they use to attract females. They also engage in elaborate flight displays, singing and fluttering their wings to communicate their availability and territorial boundaries.

The American Goldfinch is a delightful species to observe, bringing a burst of color and lively activity to Tennessee's natural landscapes.

Pileated Woodpecker

large black and white woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large and awe-inspiring bird species found in the forests of Tennessee. This magnificent woodpecker is known for its striking appearance and distinctive behavior.

The Pileated Woodpecker typically inhabits mature forests with large trees, where it excavates nest cavities and forages for food. It can be identified by its vibrant red crest, black body, and white stripes on its face. This species is known for its loud, resonant drumming, which is used to mark territory and attract mates.

The Pileated Woodpecker mainly feeds on insects, particularly carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae, which it locates by pecking and chiseling into tree trunks.

In terms of conservation efforts, protecting the Pileated Woodpecker's habitat is crucial. Additionally, maintaining healthy forest ecosystems with an abundance of dead wood for nesting and foraging is important for the long-term survival of this species.

Indigo Bunting

vibrant blue bird species

Continuing our exploration of Tennessee's avian inhabitants, let us now turn our attention to the captivating Indigo Bunting, a species that adds a vibrant burst of color to the state's diverse birdlife. Indigo Buntings are small passerine birds, with the males displaying a striking blue plumage that is truly mesmerizing. These birds are known for their nesting habits, typically building their nests in dense shrubs or low tree branches, using grass, stems, and leaves as building materials. The female Indigo Bunting plays a significant role in selecting the nesting site and constructing the nest.

When it comes to migration patterns, Indigo Buntings are neotropical migrants, spending their breeding season in Tennessee and other parts of the eastern United States before embarking on their long journey south. These birds undertake a remarkable migration, traveling thousands of miles to reach their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It is truly awe-inspiring to witness the Indigo Buntings' vibrant blue plumage among the lush green foliage during their breeding season, and equally remarkable to consider the incredible journey they undertake each year.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!