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Birds Of Tennessee: Top 16 Species In The Volunteer State

Mourning Dove

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

The state of Tennessee is home to more than 434 different bird species.

But...

What exactly do these birds have to offer aside from their colorful plumages?

In this article, we took sixteen of the most prominent birds of Tennessee and wrote down all the necessary information about them, yes, including the fun ones!

Let’s get started, and at the end of it, make sure to choose your favorite bird 🙂 

The 16 Birds In Tennessee With Fun Facts And How To Attract Them

1. House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

The House Finch Species was originally exclusive to Western America, but they are now found in almost every backyard in the United States. They are year-round residents throughout the state of Tennessee.

These medium-sized birds have long notched tails, round heads, and short conical bills. Their plumage mainly consists of brown and gray with streaks to the sides, their crowns, chests, and rumps are red-orange.

Just like the House Sparrow species, they are not at all territorial, you can find them in flocks along wires, sidewalks, and bushes. They reside in rural areas and towns where they sing their lively song that everyone's familiar with.

A house finch loves seeds, especially sunflower seeds. They enjoy thistle socks and tube feeders more than any other bird feeder type.

Fun Fact 1: House Finches are so common that they have been universally used as a key species in size comparison with not so prominent bird species.

Fun Fact 2: You could easily catch their attention by giving them the best kind of bird feeder they will not resist!

2. Tennessee Warbler (Leiothlypis peregrina)

Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler

According to Cornell Lab, the Tennessee Warbler gets the second part of its scientific name (peregrina) from the Latin word peregrinus, which means wanderer.

They're a small and stocky new world warbler, they have short tails, thin and sharp bills, and white lines over their eyes. Males have a gray head, a contrasting green back, and a whitish underpart and tail covert. While females are more greenish and have solid colored backs rather than contrasted.

These birds breed in east Tennessee and spend their winter in North, Central. and Northern South America.

Tennessee Warblers are commonly spotted on slender branches from high elevations. Their diet primarily consists of insects and small caterpillars. They breed in coniferous forests and migrate to woodlands.

They're not frequent bird feeder visitors, but they can't resist jelly, suet, peanut butter, nectar, and oranges.

Fun Fact 1: The bird species Tennesse Warbler is known for being a "nectar thief" because of the way they pierce the flower tube at its base to take the nectar without helping in the flower's pollination process.

Fun Fact 2: Sometimes nectar drips and causes ants to swarm in, destroying your viewing experience, and messing up your backyard feeders! Just know how to keep ants out of hummingbird feeders and you're golden! (This tip is not only for hummingbird feeders but for all kinds of bird feeders, in general.)

3. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The Northern Cardinal species are year-round residents throughout Tennessee, they reside in shrubby woodland edges.

Their medium-sized plump body, fairly full long tail, wispy crest, short heavy conical bill are only made 10x better by their bright red overall plumage.

They’re experts in cracking open sunflower seeds and spitting out its hulls because of their thick bills that were really just made for the job.

Aside from sunflower seeds, they also favor other seeds like black oil. And if you serve it in a hopper or tray feeder, they’ll even take their time to enjoy berries and nuts.

Fun Fact: Even though the Northern Cardinal is a common species, many believe that spotting one is a message from a recently departed loved one.

4. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Doves are the most common and prominent backyard bird species in the United States. They are permanent residents throughout the state of Tennessee and can often be spotted in semi-open areas.

Their name comes from the mournful cooing they make that blends perfectly with the early morning.

These large birds have very plump and small round heads with long pointed tails and short legs. Their bills are small and slender and their body is painted in brown pink and white.

Their diet almost exclusively consists of seeds. Their favorites are black oil and sunflower seeds served on a tray or ground feeder.

Fun Fact: When a Mourning Dove sleeps, they rest their heads between their shoulders making their little necks disappear.

5. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

The Blue Jay species are famous in the eastern half of the United States. In Tennessee, they are year-round residents that can be found in both woodlands and towns. 

Their plumage consists of a blue back, white chest and underpart, a black neck collar, and multiple white patches across their wings. They have large fluffy crested heads, medium-length tails, long legs, and long stout bills. 

The species Blue Jay is known to be omnivorous (or omnivores), they enjoy peanuts and seeds the most.

Fun Fact: Blue Jays are bold and brash. When it comes to a feeder, they'll bully the smaller birds around and gulp multiple bird food at once.

6. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is famous for the bird songs that it sings from exposed perches at night. Its unique short chirps are what distinguishes it from other birds, it is the only species that love repeating the same notes. 

Out of all the birds of Tennessee, the Northern Mockingbird is the one they have officially chosen to be their state bird.

Luckily, these birds are in the state all year long, you’ll surely catch them whenever it is you plan to visit. You can find them on trees, bushes, and in residential areas.

Their slender bodies are covered with a gradient of dark gray to white. They have a medium-length curved slender bill, and a long tail and legs.

Most of their diet consists of insects. But they also take interest in fruits like berries, grapes, raisins, and apples. A birdbath is also in the equation.

Fun Fact: A Northern Mockingbird's bravery can be seen when they defend their nests from anything that imposes harm to it, they will not hesitate to attack.

7. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

These tiny woodpeckers are permanent residents of the state and are found in the backyards of the United States. They stay by trees, willows, and weed stocks near bodies of water.

They have a large stocky head with a black and white stripe pattern. Their wings are black with white spots, their bills are short and chisel-shaped, and their short and stiff tails are black.

Their bodies are painted in solid white and the males have a noticeable red spot at the back of their heads.

A Downy Woodpecker's diet is made up of insects, arthropods, fruits, suets, and any type of seed.

Fun Fact: A Downy Woodpecker's favorite location relies greatly on its gender; males are often found in small plants and twigs and females perch on tree trunks.

8. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

An Eastern Bluebird is a year-round resident as well, it can be found in open fields, trees, and fences.

They have large chunky heads, short tails, straight slender bills, and short legs.

Males have a blue plumage across their backs, wings, and tails and a rusty orange patch on their bellies and underparts. Females on the other hand tend to be much paler and almost grayish.

In the wild, they eat flying insects, invertebrates, and berries. But, they’ll gladly enjoy the mealworms you’ve prepared for them as long as they’re served in a tray feeder. 

Fun Fact: An Eastern Bluebird will gladly make use of the nest box you've prepared for them; that is only if it is perchless and has a very small entrance hole.

9. American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

The American Goldfinch is a well-known backyard bird due to its bright yellow summer color, they used to be called wild canaries back in the day.

They can be spotted in the weedy fields and clearings with thistles of Tennessee all year round. 

American Goldfinches are tiny yet plump birds, their heads are large and their tails are short. 

Aside from their vivid yellow plumage, they also have black foreheads, wings, and tails. Female breeds show more of a dull olive shade than yellow and a brown shade over their wings and tails rather than black.

Tube feeders and thistle socks filled with weed, black oil, thistle, sunflower, and niger seeds are the secret ingredients to attracting them to your backyard.

Fun Fact: An American Goldfinch has an adorable way of flight, they continuously rise and fall as they flap with their tiny little wings.

10. Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

Eastern Towhees are huge, ground-dwelling sparrows that you’ll find in the bushes, hedges, and woodlands of Tennessee.

Compared to common sparrows, these birds are bulky and round. They have a large head, long tails, and short conical bills.

Their plumage consists of a black back and rump, white belly, rusty brown sides, and whitetail corners and wing patch.

The diet of an Eastern Towhee consists of insects and invertebrates. You can attract them by making use of either a hopper, platform, or ground feeder filled with berries, fruits, and seeds.

Fun Fact: An Eastern Towhee's eyes aren't always of the same color. Heterochromia is very common within their species.

11. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

The Bald Eagle is one of the most famous birds of prey in Northern America. 

They can be found soaring high and flapping over treetops. They also perch in trees and grounds every once and a while. 

They reside near bodies of water like lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and coasts. 

These birds are carnivores, they mostly scavenge for both alive and dead birds but they also enjoy fish and other small mammals.

Their large heads are not really bald but covered with pure white plumage instead. It contrasts their heavy dark brown bodies and wings. 

Their legs and bills are brown yellow and their wings are broad and flat when fully spread.

Fun Fact 1: The Bald Eagle has been United States' national emblem since 1782. They see it as a spiritual symbol as their native people have before.

Fun Fact 2: Know about other raptors (i.e., hawks) by reading types of hawks Massachusettes residents would love to encounter!

12. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is the largest among North American Herons. They have long legs, shaggy feathers, sinuous necks, broad and rounded wings, and thick sharp bills. 

From a distance, they may seem bluish-gray, but up close, they are more of a dull blue with a wide black stripe over their eyes. Their wings show a light to dark contrast.

They stalk and hunt for their prey in shallow water and open fields by standing like statues or wading slowly. They also have a very incredible lightning-fast thrust when they use their dagger-sharp bills to stab prey.

Fun Fact: During a flight, a Great Blue Heron will curl its neck into a stiff "S" shape.

13. Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes are more known as the birds that dance silly, they stretch their wings and pump their heads repeatedly, sometimes they even leap into the air gracefully as they dance.

They travel in huge flocks (hundreds to thousands) and can often be spotted across wet meadows and isolated areas. They breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies.

These birds are tall and slim. Their bodies are painted gray and they have crimson-colored caps. They have long and thin bills, legs, and necks.

Their favorite meals are acorns, earthworms, turf grubs, and crickets.

Fun Fact: Due to their long tracheas that coil into their sternums, a Sandhill Crane's call becomes a distinctive loud, rolling, low pitched sound.

14. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

Carolina Chickadees are the most common backyard feeder birds in North America and the southeastern United States. They are around throughout the year in the state of Tennessee.

These birds are generally small, their gray and white bodies are round and plump. They have round heads that have a black cap and a white face, and their bills are both short and stout.

Their diet includes insects and black oil sunflower seeds, if you serve them in a hopper feeder, they'll surely love you!

Fun Fact: Since they have tiny mouths, a Carolina Chickadee cannot chew the way other birds do, they pound seeds open with their bills.

15. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

An American Robin is present in the state all year long, it belongs to the northern half of the United States. These migratory birds stay in open woodlands, urban areas, and farmlands. 

They are medium-sized and plumply built. Their plumage consists of gray-brown upperparts and rusty orange breasts; they have long tails and straight slender bills as well.

These birds enjoy worms and invertebrates, if you offer them fruits on a traitor ground feeder, they’ll surely come around. 

Fun Fact: The American Robin is the national bird of Great Britain!

16. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tufted Titmouse has a strong relation and similar appearance to the famous chickadees, you can tell them apart by noticing that Tufted Titmouses don’t have black bibs but a crest instead.

They are around the state of Tennessee all year round and can be spotted in deciduous forests, parks, and any area with heavy canopies. 

They have a dark blue-gray plumage that fades below their bodies. Their eyes are covered with a black mark that makes them look smaller than it is. They also have slender legs and short stout bills.

Insects, seeds, and suet on hopper and tray bird feeders are highly encouraged as they may help in the expansion of this bird species’ range in the North.

Fun Fact: Because of the small and round physique of a Tufted Titmouse, they are physically incapable of flying at a fast pace.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the rarest bird out of all the birds in Tennessee?

Although the White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) is of Least Concern (LC) on the extinction scale, they still remain to be one of the rarest Tennessee birds. They are more commonly found in Alaska, Ontario, Main, and places in between. They look quite a lot like mourning doves, an obvious difference between the two would be that a Mourning Dove's plumage is darker.

What are the birds native to Tennessee?

The state of Tennessee has around 434 different bird species, there are many known birds native to it just like the Carolina Chickadee, and rare birds as well just like the Olive-sided Flycatcher.

What is the largest bird in Tennessee?

So far, the largest recorded Tennessee bird is the Osprey. With a wingspan of more than 5 feet (1.52 meters), this species is also considered one of North America's largest birds of prey in North America.


Conclusion

Now that you've learned more than enough about the common birds in Tennessee, I believe it’s time for you to pack up your birding equipment and take a closer look at these little birds!

Before getting started with your Tennessee bird-watching experience, always keep in mind that respecting these birds in their natural habitats is highly mandatory.

Make sure not to invade or alarm them. Keep your distance, be friendly, and enjoy!

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