The birds of Tennessee are 423 species that make their home in some of the most impressive scenery in the nation.
From the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains in the east to oak forests and Reelfoot Lake in the west, the Volunteer State boasts 42,143 square miles of wonderful habitat for birds.
Although the Bachman’s Sparrow has become rare, and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is gone, most other species are common and easy to see.
How many birds of Tennessee have you seen? We bet you’ve seen a lot but how many were you able to identify?
This list of common backyard and wild birds in Tennessee will help!
Most common birds of Tennessee
Tennessee is a biodiverse state with lots of birds but which are the most common species?
To answer that question, we used data from eBird sightings to make a reliable list of the most commonly seen birds in Tennessee. We arranged them from most common to least common.
PS! Remember that species on the bottom of the list are common birds too!
To help with identification, we also included information about their field marks and behavior.
Northern Cardinal (Most Common Bird of Tennessee)
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “pichew-pichew-pichew, chew,chew,chew,chew,chew”
Northern Cardinals are medium-sized songbirds with a perky crest and big orange-red beak. Males are bright red with a black throat and face, and have dusky red on their back, wings, and tail.
Female Northern Cardinals are grayish-brown and buff with some black on their face and throat. They also have red highlights on their crest, wings, and long, rounded tail.
This species has short, rounded wings and seems to bounce up and down as they move through the air. In flight, Northern Cardinals also make sharp chip notes.
The Northern Cardinal is a bird of second growth, gardens, and parks. It eats seeds, insects, and some fruit and is a regular visitor to bird feeders. They forage on and near the ground but males sing from a prominent perch.
This beautiful bird occurs in pairs and nests in bushes and low trees. It is common in the eastern and southwestern USA, southern Ontario, and in Mexico.
- Crested bird with a conical orange-red beak and a black face. Males are red, females are grayish-brown and buff.
- Forages for seeds and insects on and near the ground.
- Makes a cup-shaped nest in bushes and low trees.
Northern Cardinals are one of the most beautiful common birds in most states, including Tennessee. It’s no wonder seven different states chose it to be their official bird. Another fun fact about this species is that female Northern Cardinals also sing.
Scientific name: Thryothorus ludovicianus
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle”
The Carolina Wren is a small, reddish-brown and buff bird with a long, sharp, slightly decurved beak. It has a long, narrow, white eyebrow, a white throat, and some white mottling on its face. Males and females are similar and have black barring on their short wings, long tail, and under the tail.
Juveniles are similar but have paler underparts. This animated and vocal little bird forages for bugs in vine tangles and other dense vegetation. It usually occurs in pairs that can easily hide in the dense vegetation they prefer.
Carolina Wrens build a domed, cup nest made of sticks and soft vegetation. There is a side entrance, and it can be placed in cavities and crevices of stumps, bushes, trees, potted plants, and other structures.
The Carolina Wren lives in vegetated gardens, second growth, parks, and similar habitats in much of the eastern USA, parts of southern Ontario, and parts of eastern Mexico.
- Small reddish-brown and buff bird with a long beak and long white eyebrows.
- Feeds on arthropods in dense, tangled vegetation.
- Carolina Wrens fill the garden with loud and melodious songs. One common song sounds like, “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle“. They also make trilled sounds and harsh, nasal calls.
The Carolina Wren is a vocal species of gardens and second growth. Pairs use their long beaks to catch bugs and insects and aren’t shy about nesting near people. Many of these friendly birds have nested in such places as old shoes, potted plants, and abandoned cars.
Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
Length: 4.75 inches
Weight: .37 ounces
Wingspan: 7.5 inches
Song: “see-dee, see-dew”
The Carolina Chickadee is a small, cute, grayish and buff bird with a black cap, black throat, and white face. Males and females look the same and have stubby black beaks, strong, blue-gray legs and feet, and some pale edging on the feathers in their wings and tails.
This small bird mostly feeds on insects and seeds. It finds food by foraging with flocks of other small birds and picking small bugs and other items from bark, foliage, and twigs. Carolina Chickadees often hang upside down from twigs while foraging and are regular visitors to bird feeders.
These fun little birds nest in tree cavities and nest boxes and live in parks, woodlands, and other habitats. As long as enough trees are present, they also commonly live in urban areas.
The Carolina Chickadee is a permanent resident of Maryland and Ohio, west to Texas and south to northern Florida.
- The Carolina Chickadee is a small gray and buff bird with a smart black cap, black throat, and white face.
- Feeds on small insects and seeds. A regular visitor to bird feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- Carolina Chickadees are vocal birds that make nasal “chick a dee dee dee” calls, and a high-pitched, “see-dee, see-dew”.
The Carolina Chickadee is a small grayish bird with a black cap and throat. They usually occur in small flocks that forage for insects and seeds as they chatter and move through woodlands and park-like habitats. This species uses its excellent memory to recall where it keeps hidden bits of food.
Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata
Length: 11 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Song: “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!”
The Blue Jay is a fairly large, crested bird with a straight black bill. Both sexes look alike and are blue above and gray and white below. They also have some small black lines on their faces and a narrow black necklace that goes up to the side of their face and crest.
Blue Jays also have some white markings and black barring on their wings and on their tail. Young birds look like adults but are duller blue.
They make messy cup nests at various heights in a variety of trees.
These social and intelligent birds feed on acorns, nuts, insects, and other small creatures. Like other members of the jay and crow family, they eat the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
The Blue Jay is a common bird of woodlands, forest, and towns east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA and central and southern Canada.
- A crested, fairly large bird with bright blue above and gray below.
- Feeds in trees and at feeders. Eats acorns, nuts, insects, and many other food items.
- Makes a messy cup nest of sticks in a tree.
- Very vocal. In flight, Blue Jays often call as they swoop through the trees. They make a variety of sounds and mimic some other birds. Common calls include a nasal and complaining “Nyeah! Nyeah! Nyeah!” and various whistled calls.
The Blue Jay is a common, intelligent, and noisy bird. They make their presence known with their loud calls and can visit feeders. Ironically, when communicating with each other at close quarters, this species makes much softer and quieter calls. It’s almost as if they are talking with each other!
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wingspan: 39 inches
Song: “Caw! Caw!”
The American Crow is a big, all black bird with a strong, stout bill. In certain lighting, it can have metallic purple and blue iridescence.
Both sexes look the same and have some feathering on their beaks, long, broad wings, and a broad tail.
American Crows have a direct flight with strong, steady wing beats. Crows are very social and intelligent birds that are usually seen in flocks. They forage together on the ground or in trees and eat just about anything they can find.
Some of their more regular foods include carrion, fruit, nuts, seeds, insects, and small animals. Like most jays and crow species, they also eat the eggs and nestlings of other bird species.
This species builds bulky stick nests high in trees and lives in most habitats except for high mountains and arid zones.
The American Crow occurs in southern Alaska and much of Canada and the USA.
- Big, all black bird with long, broad wing and a broad tail.
- Forages for carrion, fruit, seeds, insects, and small animals.
- Builds a bulky stick nest high in a tree.
- American Crows are very vocal birds. They can make several calls, but their most common one is, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”.
The American Crow is a common, large black bird that frequently calls, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”. It usually occurs in flocks and lives in all sorts of places, even urban zones. These birds are very smart and have funerals or wakes! When a crow dies, other crows mark the occasion by gathering together and loudly calling.
Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor
Length: 6.5 inches
Weight: .75 ounces
Wingspan: 9.75 inches
Song: “peter peter peter”
The Tufted Titmouse is a small, crested, blue-gray bird with a white face. Males and females look the same and have a small black mark above their stubby black beak. They also have pale underparts with peach-orange flanks.
These cute little birds occur in small groups that forage for insects and seeds in parks and woodlands. They move through the trees and use their bills to pick food from leaves, bark, and branches. Tufted Titmouse are also regular visitors to bird feeders.
These small birds nest in woodpecker holes and other cavities in dead trees, and can also use nest boxes.
We find the Tufted Titmouse in hardwood forests and forested urban areas. They are often heard before they are seen and flock with other small birds. When they see a predator, they are some of the first birds to harass it.
The Tufted Titmouse occurs in the eastern USA and some parts of southeastern Canada.
- Small, crested blue-gray bird with pale underparts and a white face.
- Feeds on seeds and insects and visits feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- The Tufted Titmouse is a very vocal bird. It gives constant whistled calls over and over, “peter peter peter“.
The Tufted Titmouse is an easily recognized bird that lives in parks, gardens, and woodlands. It occurs in small flocks, often visits feeders, and needs dead trees or nest boxes to breed. This species lines its nest with mammal hair, including fur from Raccoons, Opossums, and other animals.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Wingspan: 18 inches
Song: “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”
Mourning Doves are medium-sized, grayish-brown doves with long tails. They have small black spots on their wings and a small head with a slender, dark beak.
Males and females also have narrow gray eyerings, a black mark on the face, and pale iridescent gold on the sides of their necks. They look alike except for males having more gray on the head and neck, and more iridescence.
This dove has fairly long wings and swift, direct flight. When flying, it shows black and white on its tail.
The Mourning Dove occurs in woodlands, gardens, farms, and urban areas. This common feeder visitor eats seeds and grains. It also forages in open situations, picking food from the ground.
This pleasant dove species can visit a feeder on its own or forage in small flocks. It builds an unkempt stick nest in bushes and trees and is very common throughout the USA, southern Canada, and Mexico.
- Plain brown and gray dove with a long, pointed tail.
- Feeds on seeds at feeders and on the ground in open areas.
- Makes a small, messy nest of sticks in trees.
- Sings a sad and owl-like “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”.
The Mourning Dove is the common garden dove in most of its range. It often visits feeders, and its cooing song is commonly mistaken for an owl. This species has a short lifespan, with many adults only living for a couple of years or less.
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
Song: “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”
The American Robin is a familiar and common thrush that is dark gray above and brick red below. It also has an orange-yellow bill, a blackish head with white markings around the eyes and on the throat, and a white belly.
Both sexes of this thrush species are similar, but males are darker above and more reddish on the underparts. Young American Robins have more white marks on their faces and spotting on orange underparts.
In flight, this common thrush in Tennessee also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.
American Robins forage on the ground for worms, insects, snails, and other small creatures. In winter, these common birds flock together and perch in trees and bushes to eat berries and fruit.
The American Robin makes a cup nest in trees and lives in parks, woodlands, towns, and many other habitats. They reside in Alaska, most of Canada, the USA, and in Mexico.
- Fair-sized songbird that is dark gray above, and brick red and white below.
- Forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open grassy areas, also flocks together to feed on fruiting trees in the winter.
- Makes a cup nest in trees.
- The American Robin is quite vocal and makes a loud, sharp, “yenk!” call and quieter “check,check,check” calls. It also has a lovely cheerful song of caroled phrases, “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”.
The American Robin is a common, handsome thrush with dark gray upperparts and brick red and white underparts. Populations of the American Robin have been estimated at 370,000,000; a number that gives this bird the distinction of being the most numerous landbird in North America.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Length: 9.25 inches
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are medium-sized with black and white barring on their back and wings. They have a long beak and pale gray underparts with a small red patch on the belly.
Males have red on the head from the bill to the back of the neck (the nape). Females have an orange-red spot above their bill and red on the back of their head. Both sexes have a mostly white rump and central tail feathers.
This woodpecker species has long wings and “undulating” flight, where it moves up and down as it flies. In flight, Red-bellied Woodpeckers show a small white patch in their wings.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker lives in wooded habitats. It eats nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, and can attack nestlings of other species. It also visits bird feeders.
This striking woodpecker occurs in pairs and nests in tree cavities high above the ground. It is common in the eastern USA and parts of southern Ontario.
- Grayish woodpecker with black and white barring above, and red on the top of the head and back of the neck.
- Forages for seeds, nuts, insects, and other food on trunks and branches.
- Nests in a tree cavity, high overhead.
- Makes a loud exclamation, “Qwerr!“. It also makes other briefer and quieter “chug” calls.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common and adaptable birds. As long as big trees are present, we see them in urban areas as well as wilder places. They also visit feeders and have a very long tongue. When extended, it sticks out 2 inches past the tip of its bill!
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 1.7 ounces
Wingspan: 14 inches
Song: “kerdee, kerdee, kerdee…jirdle,jirdle,jidrle…”
The Northern Mockingbird is a pale gray and white bird with a long tail. Around the same size as an American Robin, it has a dark line through a pale eye, a short, slender beak, and two white wing bars.
Both sexes look alike, are gray above, and white and buff below. In flight, this bird shows a blackish tail with white outer feathers and a big white wing patch.
Northern Mockingbirds feed on insects and berries. They forage in open grassy spots, on the ground. These animated birds run and pick bugs from the ground and fly up to catch insects in flight. In winter, they also perch in bushes to feast on berries.
The Northern Mockingbird lives in towns, parks, and other semi-open habitats, and builds cup nests in bushes and low trees. Northern Mockingbirds are common garden birds in much of the eastern and southern USA, southern Ontario, and Mexico.
- Vocal, gray and white bird with a small bill, white wing patches, and a long, black and white tail.
- Feeds on the ground in open areas and in bushes. Mostly eats insects and berries.
- Makes a cup nest in a bush or low tree.
- Very vocal. Sings many phrases and mimics many other birds. Some of the more regular phrases sound like, “kerdee, kerdee, kerdee…jirdle,jirdle,jidrle…“. These are interspered with the calls of Blue Jays, woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, and various other bird species.
The Northern Mockingbirds are often seen on lawns and sing from rooftops. This species can mimic the calls of 35 bird species as well as mechanical sounds.
Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .95 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “Pik! Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!”
The Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white woodpecker with a short, black beak. They are patterned black and white above and have white backs and white underparts. Both sexes look alike, except that males have a small, bright red patch on the top back part of their head.
Young birds look like adults but have a reddish patch on the top of their head. Downy Woodpeckers also have a few small black marks in their white outer tail feathers, and a small white tuft at the base of their beak.
This woodpecker eats insects, other small creatures, seeds, and small fruits. It pecks into live and dead wood and often forages on smaller branches and twigs. These friendly little woodpeckers are also common feeder birds.
They nest in tree cavities and live in gardens and a wide variety of woodlands. We see Downy Woodpeckers in much of Canada and the USA but not in arid habitats.
- Smallest woodpecker in North America. Mostly black and white with a short, black beak.
- Forages on trees, in bushes, and at feeders for insects, seeds, and suet.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- The Downy Woodpecker makes sharp “pik!” calls and also has a trilled call, “Ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch!“.
Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker species in North America and usually occur in pairs. They can also forage with other small birds and often visit feeders. This species takes advantage of its size to peck into the stems of weeds and other plants too small for larger woodpeckers to perch on.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 6 inches
Weight: .88 ounces
Wingspan: 10 inches
House Finches are sparrow-sized birds with dark, rounded beaks and fairly long wings. Males are orange-red or rose-red on their head, throat and breast, and have some red on their rump. They also have brownish streaks on their back, flanks, and white belly.
Like the male, female House Finches have two white wing bars on long, gray-brown wings. However, they lack red and are mostly streaked, dull brown-gray birds.
House Finches feed on seeds, buds, fruit, and flowers. They often visit feeders in Tennessee but also forage on the ground, and in bushes and trees.
We see these pretty birds in deserts and arid zones, and in parks, farmland, urban areas, and other semi-open habitats.
The House Finch makes a soft cup nest built on a tree, building ledge or other spot with some overhanging cover. They often occur in small groups and live in southern Canada, most of the USA, Mexico, and Hawaii.
- Reddish or plain gray-brown, streaked, sparrow-like bird.
- Eats seeds, flowers, buds, and fruit. Can visit feeders but also forages on the ground and in bushes and trees.
- Makes a soft cup nest in trees, on building ledges, and other places.
- The House Finch often makes a soft, “fidip” call. Males also sing a warbling song from prominent, high perches. It sounds like “chip,chip,chiprididip,ZREEYachip”.
House Finches are sparrow-like, reddish or brownish, streaked birds. They live in arid zones as well as in parks and urban areas. All of the millions of House Finches that live east of the Rocky Mountains are descendants of birds released on Long Island in 1939.
Scientific name: Sialia sialis
Length: 7 inches
Weight: 1.1 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
Song: “fer fer chidip fer”
The Eastern Bluebird is a rather small, blue and white bird with orange on the side of its neck, throat, breast, and flanks. The male has beautiful pastel blue upperparts, and a white belly and undertail.
Females have blue-gray upperparts, a broken white eyering, and some white on the throat.
Juveniles are gray-brown with some blue and pale spotting.
The Eastern Bluebird feeds on insects, fruit, and occasional seeds. It snatches insects in flight, picks them from leaves while hovering, and flies down to meadows and grassy areas to catch them on the ground.
Flocks of Eastern Bluebirds feed on small fruits by perching in fruiting trees and picking them from vegetation.
Eastern Bluebirds make a shallow cup nest out of grass inside a tree cavity or nest box.
This beautiful bird lives in open and semi-open habitats in southern Canada and the USA east of the Rocky Mountains. They also live in the mountains in Mexico and northern Central America (including Tennessee).
- Smallish blue and white birds with orange on their throat, breast, and flanks.
- Forages for insects and small fruit.
- Makes a shallow cup nest out of grass in a nest box or tree cavity.
- Has short melodious calls, “jeer” and a song of similar melodious notes, “cheweer chewit cherwit”.
The Eastern Bluebird is a smallish, blue and white thrush with orange highlights. They live in open and semi-open areas, and, in winter, form flocks that feed at fruiting trees. Eastern Bluebird populations have been boosted in many areas by “Bluebird Trails,” areas with nest boxes designed for this species.
Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Wingspan: 10.5 inches
Song: “drink your TEA!”
The Eastern Towhee is a thrush-sized, boldly patterned, sparrow-like bird with red-brown eyes and a black, finch-like beak. It is dark above, has a small white patch in the wing, and a white belly with chestnut flanks.
It also has buff on its undertail, and white spots under its longish, rounded tail. Males have black upperparts and a black hood, while these parts on females are dark brown. Young birds are dark brown and heavily streaked. They also have a pale wing patch and a buff undertail.
Eastern Towhees forage for insects and seeds by scratching and tossing leaf litter with both feet. This species also feeds on berries, especially during the winter months.
The Eastern Towhee uses grass and other plant matter to make an open cup nest in dense vegetation on or near the ground.
Eastern Towhees frequent dense second growth and brushy habitats east of the Rockies in southern Canada and the eastern USA (being one of the most common birds of Tennessee).
- Medium-sized, boldly patterned bird with a dark hood, small white wing patch, and chestnut flanks.
- Forages for insects and seeds on the ground, in leaf litter beneath and next to dense second growth.
- Builds an open cup nest in dense vegetation, near or on the ground.
- Quite vocal makes a brief jay or cat-like call, “neah”, a “short rising “week!” sound, and sings a distinctive song with a trilled note at the end, “Drink your TEA!”.
Brown-headed Cowbirds often lay eggs in Eastern Towhee nests, but this doesn’t seem to have a big effect on their populations.
Scientific name: Carduelis tristis
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .46 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”
The American Goldfinch is a small, sparrow-sized finch with a black and white, slightly forked tail, pale rump, and white undertail. In summer, males are bright lemon yellow with a small black cap, pale beak, and have some white markings on long black wings.
Females and wintering birds have two pale wings bars and have plain gray, buff, and yellowish plumage. This species often occurs in small flocks and has bounding flight.
American Goldfinches feed on seeds. They forage by picking them from grass, thistle, other low plants, Alders, and other trees. Goldfinches are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
The American Goldfinch uses plant matter and other soft materials to build a small, tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or a low tree.
American Goldfinches are summer residents in southern Canada, California, and the northern half of the USA, and winter in most of the USA and parts of Mexico.
- Small, bright yellow finch with a black cap, wings and tail (summer male), female and winter males are plain brown, buff, and yellowish birds with two pale wing bars.
- Feeds on seeds in low plants, trees, and at feeders.
- Makes a tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or low tree.
- Often gives a “per chickory” call in flight and sings a short, trilled song, “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”.
American Goldfinches are small, common finches that frequent weedy and brushy fields, second growth, parks, and backyards. Outside of the breeding season, they occur in small flocks and often visit feeders. Brown-headed Cowbirds that hatch in American Goldfinch nests die after a few days because they can’t survive on a diet of seeds.
Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .7 ounces
Wingspan: 8.25 inches
Song: “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”
The Song Sparrow is a small, gray and brown, streaked songbird with a thick dark mark on each side of its white throat. Males and females look the same and have white underparts with a dark brown mark on their breast and dark brown streaks on their breast and sides.
Most Song Sparrows also have two narrow wing bars and show a rounded tail when fluttering between bushes.
This species feeds on insects, seeds, and small fruits. Pairs forage by picking up food items on and near the ground. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
Song Sparrows use grass, stems, hair, and other materials to make a cup nest placed on or near the ground. They nest in dense vegetation, shrubbery, or low trees, often near water.
This species uses a wide variety of brushy habitats in open and wooded situations in southern Alaska, most of Canada, and all of the USA.
- Small brown, streaked sparrow with a dark mark on its breast.
- Forages on and near the ground for seeds and insects in brushy habitats.
- Builds a cup nest on or near the ground in a shrub or low tree.
- Makes high-pitched “tink”, chirping calls, and has a cheerful song with a trill, “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”.
Song Sparrows are reddish-brown songbirds with dark brown streaks and a dark brown breast patch on white underparts. They usually occur in pairs and are often heard and seen in brushy areas and large gardens. There are several subspecies with distinct plumages, including a large, dark one that lives on the Aleutian Islands.
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
European Starlings are plump, short-tailed birds with long sharp beaks and longish, pointed wings. In summer, they have yellow beaks, glossy black plumage with purple and green highlights, and some small white spots.
Males and females are similar, but males have less spotting and glossier plumage. In winter, they have black beaks, white spots, and more reddish colors in their wings.
Young starlings are shaped like adults but are grayish birds with a dark beak and a pale throat.
This species feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and seeds. They can dominate bird feeders and are common species in urban areas, parks, farmlands, and other open habitats.
This European Starling builds a soft cup nest in a tree cavity, nest box, or suitable cavity in other structures.
European Starlings flock with each other and blackbird species, especially during the winter. They live across a large part of Canada and the USA.
- Rotund, short-tailed bird with a long, sharp beak, and pointed wings. Glossy black with some spotting in the summer and blackish with heavy white spotting and streaking in the winter.
- Feeds on seeds, fruit, and insects. Visits feeders and forages on the ground in flocks.
- Builds a soft cup nest in nest boxes and other cavities.
- The European Starling makes a wide variety of mechanical and whistling sounds. They also mimic other birds and sounds in their environment. They sing long, jumbled mechanical-sounding songs, “tiktiktitZHREEree..tiktiktik..ZHREE”.
European Starlings are rounded, blackish birds with long, sharp beaks and short tails. They live in towns, cities, parks, on farms, and in other open habitats. This species forms large flocks called, “murmurations” that move in coordinated patterns.
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
Length: 5.75 inches
Weight: .74 ounces
Wingspan: 11 inches
Song: “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”
The White-breasted Nuthatch is a sparrow-sized bird with a longish, sharp, slightly upturned beak and a short black and white tail. It also has long wings, is mostly blue-gray above, and white and gray below with some chestnut on its belly and undertail.
Both sexes look similar and have a white face, but males have a black cap and nape. Females have gray on their head and nape.
This small bird forages for insects, nuts, and seeds by creeping along branches and going down trunks, head-first. It uses its beak to pick food items from bark and also visits feeders.
The White-breasted Nuthatch makes a cup nest out of grass and soft bark inside a tree cavity or nest box.
White-breasted Nuthatches live in various wooded habitats in parts of southern Canada, most of the USA, and mountains in Mexico. They are frequent visitors to gardens near woodlands.
- Sparrow-sized, short-tailed songbird that is blue-gray above, mostly white below, and has a longish, slightly upturned beak.
- Creeps on branches and down tree trunks for insects, nuts, and seeds. Also visits feeders.
- Uses grass and soft bark to make a cup nest in a tree cavity or nest box.
- Quite vocal and makes nasal calls “yank yank”, and sings a nasal, laughter-like song, “wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn wehn”.
White-breasted Nuthatches are small blue-gray and white birds with slightly upturned beaks. They creep down trees in many wooded areas and are regular visitors to feeders. This species prefers to forage in flocks with chickadees and titmouse species because they are good at finding food and quick to make alarm calls when they see a predator.
Great Blue Heron
Scientific name: Ardea herodias
Length: 46 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Wingspan: 72 inches
Song: “Grunk! Grunk!”
The Great Blue Heron is a large, gray and pale brown heron with a long neck and legs. It has a strong, yellowish beak, black and white head with a wispy black crest, and rufous thighs.
Both sexes are alike and have pale bellies and black flanks. Juveniles have streaked underparts.
In flight, they make slow, deep flaps with long, broad gray and black wings. In Southern Florida and the Caribbean, Great Blue Herons are all white and sometimes considered a separate species, the “Great White Heron”.
These powerful herons feed on fish and small animals such as rats, snakes, and birds.
Great Blue Herons build messy, stick nests and breed in colonies, often in swamps.
We find these impressive birds in and near a wide variety of wetlands in large parts of Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean.
- Huge gray and pale brown wading bird with a thick, yellowish beak and a wispy crest. In southern Florida, it is all white but still has a crest and a strong yellowish beak.
- Stalks and prey on fish and small animals.
- Builds messy stick nests and breeds in colonies.
- Great Blue Herons aren’t all that vocal. When taking flight they make a croaking sound, “Grunk! Grunk!“.
The Great Blue Heron occurs on rivers, lakes, and many other wetlands. It stands still for long periods of time while waiting for prey to come within range of its sharp beak but is also, often seen in flight. In some parts of Florida, Great Blue Herons have gray and brown bodies and white necks and heads. These birds are known as “Wurdemann’s Heron”.
Scientific name: Zonotrichia albicollis
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .91 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada”
The White-throated Sparrow is a chunky, gray and brown sparrow with a white throat, and black and white stripes on its head. It has dark streaks on its back, a gray rump, and a bit of yellow in front of its eyes.
Males and females look the same and have reddish-brown wings with two white wing bars. Young White-throated Sparrows and some adults are duller brown with tan stripes on their heads and a dingy white throat.
White-throated Sparrows forage for seeds and insects on the ground, and also eat fruits in short trees and bushes. They reveal hidden food items by using their feet to scratch and kick away leaves.
This sparrow breeds in northern forests and builds a cup nest with grass and twigs. They construct the nest at the edge of the forest, on or close to the ground, in dense vegetation.
These sparrows usually occur in flocks and winter in the eastern and southwestern USA and parts of California.
- Large sparrow with a white throat and bold black and white or tan stripes on its head.
- Scratches leaves on the ground to find seeds and insects. They also eat berries.
- Makes a cup nest of grass, bark, and twigs, on the ground, under dense vegetation.
- Flocks of White-throated Sparrows often make sharp “tink” calls. They also sing a clear, whistled song, “Ohhh Canada Canada Canada” or, “Ohhh, Cana, Cana, Cana”.
They breed in northern forests and flock together during the winter in various woodland habitats. The yellow pigment in the patches in front of their eyes comes from eating colorful berries during fall and winter.
Scientific name: Branta canadensis
Length: 35 – 45.2 inches
Weight: 5.29 – 19.8 pounds
Wingspan: 50 – 67 inches
Song: “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”
The Canada Goose is a large, grayish-brown bird with a long black neck and black head with a white throat and cheeks. Males and females look alike and have pale barring, a white belly and undertail, and a short black and white tail.
They have strong direct flight and make deep flaps with long, broad wings.
Canada Geese feed on grass, sedges, and other vegetation, grain, and berries. They forage by walking along and grazing, or picking food from the ground and bushes. This species also feeds by dipping its head below the surface of shallow water.
This large goose uses grass and other plants to make a large, shallow cup nest on a small mound or other elevated spots next to water.
The Canada Goose prefers open grassy areas and farm fields near water where it can feed and see predators before they get too close. They live in Alaska, most of Canada, and most of the USA, being one of the most common birds of Tennessee.
- Big, gray-brown goose with a long black neck, and black and white head.
- Grazes vegetation and forages for berries in wide open, grassy habitats near water like golf courses, parks, and airports.
- Makes a shallow, open cup nest on an elevated spot next to water.
- Vocal and often makes honking calls, “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”.
Canada Geese are a large, common goose species with long black necks, and a black and white head. These big birds are a common sight on golf courses and other places that combine open lawns and water. When the Canada Goose and other birds migrate in “V” formation, they expend less energy than flying on their own.
Scientific name: Cathartes aura
Length: 26 inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Wingspan: 67 inches
The Turkey Vulture is a big, dark brownish-black raptor with a small red head and long, broad wings. Males and females look alike and also have a longish tail.
In flight, the way Turkey Vultures soar is one of the best ways to recognize them. They fly with their wings held in a “V” shape and, when gliding, often rock back and forth.
Their flight feathers are also paler than the rest of their wings, but they lack the Black Vulture’s white wing patch.
Turkey Vultures are scavengers, and most of their diet is carrion. They eat road kill and a wide variety of dead animals. This species forages over every type of habitat and can also fly over urban areas.
It lays two eggs on the ground in caves and hollow logs.
The Turkey Vulture lives in southern Canada and in most of the USA south to southern Argentina.
- Big, dark raptor with a small red head that soars with long wings held in a “V”.
- Feeds on dead animals.
- Nests on the ground in caves and hollow logs in secluded areas.
- Turkey Vultures rarely call and mostly make hissing sounds at their nest.
The Turkey Vulture is commonly seen flying over every type of habitat. They are often seen on their own but can occur in flocks, especially during migration. Unlike most other birds, this species uses its amazing sense of smell to find dead animals.
Scientific name: Sayornis phoebe
Length: 7 inches
Weight: .7 ounces
Wingspan: 10.5 inches
Song: “see-BEE! See BIDIT”
The Eastern Phoebe is a small to medium-sized, plain flycatcher that is dark, brownish gray above and white below. It also has gray on its breast and a long, blackish tail that constantly wags up and down.
This bird also has a blackish head and some pale edging on long, dark wings. Males and females look alike, but young birds have pale yellow bellies.
This flycatcher uses its slender beak to snap up insects. It catches them by flying from a perch and snatching them in flight, from foliage while hovering, and from the ground.
We usually see Eastern Phoebes on their own, sitting on low or medium-height perches. They make cup nests of mud, moss, and leaves on rocky outcrops, and under bridges and other structures.
This species breeds in woodlands and parks in Canada and the eastern USA and winters in similar habitats in the southeastern USA and Mexico.
- Plain, mid-sized flycatcher that is dark brownish-gray above and pale below with some gray on the breast.
- Perches low to mid-height in woodlands and flies out to catch insects. It also feeds on berries in winter.
- Makes a cup nest of mud and vegetation on structures and rocky outcrops.
- Sings a song that sounds like its name, “see-BEE! See BIDIT”.
The Eastern Phoebe is a featureless flycatcher with dark upperparts and pale underparts. It often wags its tail up and down and sallies from perches to catch insects. In 1804, this species became the first bird to be banded in North America when John James Audubon put silvered thread on an Eastern Phoebe’s leg.
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
The Red-winged Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird species with a sharp, all-black bill. Males also have a scarlet patch with a pale yellow border on the shoulder of each wing.
Female Red-winged Blackbirds are dark, heavily streaked, brownish-gray birds with an orange-buff eyebrow and throat. She can also have a little bit of dingy red on her shoulder.
Red-winged Blackbirds often flock together and can form very large groups in the winter. They feed on seeds, grain, and insects found on lawns, in marshes, farm fields, and other open habitats.
This species builds a cup nest made of leaves and dead stems in a bush or other low vegetation in a marsh, park, or brushy field.
Red-winged Blackbirds are very common birds that live in all sorts of open habitats. We see them in parks, farming areas, and marshes in much of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and parts of the Central America.
- Males are medium-sized blackbirds with a bright red patch on their wings. Females are heavily streaked, have a sharp black beak, and buff on the head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects on the ground in many open habitats.
- Builds a cup nest in a bush or other low vegetation.
- Red-winged Blackbirds often call. Males sing a loud, “kan-keree!” and both sexes also make “check!” calls and a high-pitched whistle-like sound.
The Red-winged Blackbird is a common, social species easily seen in marshes and open habitats. In the winter, it can form huge flocks that feed in farm fields. This species can make a daily commute of 50 miles to and from roosting and feeding sites.
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Wingspan: 20 inches
Northern Flickers are fairly large, tan and gray woodpeckers with barring on their backs. They have a black mark on their breast, black spotting below, and a dark, stout beak.
Males in the east have a tawny throat and face with a black mustache and small red spot on the back of their heads. Males in the west have mostly gray heads with a red mustache.
Female Northern Flickers look like males but lack the mustache mark.
In bounding flight, they have white rumps and flash color on their underwings. This is bright yellow in eastern birds and reddish in flickers west of the Rocky Mountains.
This woodpecker eats many ants and other insects that it catches on the ground. It forages by flying to the ground, locating anthills, and lapping them up with its long tongue.
Northern Flickers nest in tree cavities and live in wooded and open habitats in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
- Tan and gray woodpecker with black barring above, black marks below, and a bright, white rump.
- Forages for ants and other insects on the ground.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- A vocal woodpecker, the Northern Flicker often gives loud, “flicka,flicka,flicka” calls, and another loud, single note that sounds like, “Keer!” They also have a long, laughing vocalization of repeated notes, “kick,kick,kik,kik,kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik!”.
Northern Flickers are fairly big, tan woodpeckers with gray highlights, a white rump, and black markings. They mostly forage for ants on the ground in open and wooded areas. The red-shafted Northern Flickers in the west used to be considered a separate species from the yellow-shafted flickers of the east. At present, they are considered to be one species because they frequently hybridize with each other.
Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .42 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a small, blue-gray songbird with a yellow rump, crown, and yellow patches on each side of its breast. It also has two white wing bars, dark marks on the back, and white underparts with blackish markings on its breast and sides.
In summer, this species has a blackish face and white markings above and below the eyes. Females are like males but duller. In winter, both sexes of Yellow-rumped Warblers are duller and have more brownish plumage.
The western subspecies have a yellow throat and more white in the wings.
This species feeds on insects and small berries. It picks food from vegetation and briefly flies into the air to catch bugs in flight.
Yellow-rumped Warblers build small cup nests in conifers in Canada and the northeastern and western USA. They spend the winter in semi-open habitats from the southern USA to Central America.
- Small songbird with two pale wing bars and yellow patches on the rump, each side of its breast, and crown.
- Feeds on insects and small berries.
- Builds cup nests in conifers in northern and montane forests.
- The Yellow-rumped Warbler makes a sharp call note, “chup!”, and sings a brief and easy-going warbling song, “si,sit,sit,sit,sit,sue,sue,sue”.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are small, blue-gray or brownish songbirds with two pale wing bars, and yellow patches on the crown, sides of the breast, and rump. In winter, they occur in small flocks that feed on insects and berries in parks and other semi-open habitats. The eastern subspecies is known as the “Myrtle Warbler,” and the yellow-throated western subspecies is called “Audubon’s Warbler.”
Scientific name: Toxostoma rufum
Length: 11.5 inches
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
Song: “chree ree, chree ree, seerup seerup, cheer cheer, chrup chrup…”
The Brown Thrasher is a big slender bird with a long, rounded tail. Both sexes look alike and have bright reddish-brown upperparts, and dark brown streaks on pale buffy underparts.
They also have a grayish face, pale eyes, two narrow white wing bars, and a slender, slightly curved bill.
This species feeds on insects, small creatures, seeds, and fruit. It forages by using its beak to move leaves and soil to reveal food items and also forages in bushes and low trees.
The Brown Thrasher uses grass, sticks, and other bits of vegetation to make a bulky cup nest on or near the ground in a dense bush or low tree.
Brown Thrashers frequent second growth, brushy areas, and other similar habitats east of the Rocky Mountains in southern Canada and the USA.
- Large, slender, reddish-brown bird with a long tail and dark streaks on pale underparts.
- Forages on the ground and in low vegetation for insects, other small creatures, seeds, and fruit.
- Uses twigs and other materials to build a bulky cup nest in a low, dense vegetation, or the ground.
- Very vocal. Makes sharp smacking calls and sings a complex song of repeated double phrases that can include calls of other birds, “chree ree, chree ree, seerup seerup, cheer cheer, chrup chrup…”
Brown Thrashers are large, long-tailed reddish-brown birds with dark streaks on pale underparts. They frequent second-growth and brushy areas, including parks where they sing from bushes and forage on the ground. When defending its nest, this species can peck people and dogs hard enough to draw blood!
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 23 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 35 inches
Song: “quack, quack”
The Mallard is a fairly large, familiar duck. The male has a metallic green head, yellow bill, narrow white ring around the neck, and chestnut breast. The rest of the bird is pale gray with pale brown and black on its back and around his tail.
Female Mallards are mottled brown and buff with a dark crown and line through the eyes, and have a dark gray and orange beak.
In flight, both sexes show a green-blue wing patch bordered with white.
Mallards eat a variety of items including insect larvae, snails, other small aquatic creatures, acorns, seeds, and grain. They forage by filtering and picking up food items in and near shallow water and in farm fields.
This Tennessee duck species makes a shallow nest with sticks and lined with down feathers. It builds its nest on the ground, hidden in grass or under a bush.
The Mallard lives in ponds, marshes, and many wetland habitats in Canada, USA, and Eurasia.
- Feeds on insect larvae, grain, seeds, and other items picked up with its bill in and near shallow water.
- Makes a shallow stick nest hidden in grass or under a bush.
- The female Mallard makes the classic “quack, quack” duck sound. Males make similar but softer sounds and a whistling call.
The Mallard is a fairly large and familiar duck with a dark green head (the male) or buff and brown with a dark gray and orange beak (the female). Thus duck species often live near people and occur on lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. No matter how different they look, most small domestic duck species are descended from wild Mallards.
Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus
Length: 10.5 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces
Wingspan: 24 inches
Song: “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”
The Killdeer is a fair-sized, slender plover that is dark brown above and white below. They have two black bands on their breast, a patterned, black, white, and dark brown face, and a longish, orange tail.
Both sexes look alike and also have a slender, black bill, narrow, red-orange eyerings, and long, pale legs. In flight, we can see a white stripe in each of their long, dark wings and a black tip on their long, wedge-shaped, orange tail.
Killdeers often fly high overhead in fast, direct flight, but we usually see them foraging on the ground. They pick insects, other small creatures, and seeds from the edges of wetlands and other open grassy areas.
This species lays its camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields. When people and pets approach too close, they give loud calls and pretend to have a broken wing.
The Killdeer lives in large parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and also Tennessee.
- Fair-sized plover with two black breast bands and a wedge-shaped orange tail with a black tip.
- Picks seeds and small creatures from open ground.
- Lays camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields.
- Very vocal and sounds like it says its name, “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”.
The Killdeer is the most common and familiar shorebird in much of its range and occurs in many open habitats. It is the only plover in North America with two black breast bands and a longish, orange tail with a black tip. To scare cows near their nests, Killdeers fluff themselves to look bigger, raise their tail over their head, and run at the large animal.
Scientific name: Coragyps atratus
Length: 25 inches
Weight: 4.4 pounds
Wingspan: 59 inches
The Black Vulture is a big, bulky, black raptor with a naked, wrinkled black head and rather short, broad tail. It has a white patch near the tip of each of its long, broad wings, and a pale, slender beak with a hooked tip.
Male and female Black Vultures look alike and also have fairly long, blackish legs and feet. They fly with a few quick flaps followed by soaring with their wings held flat.
This species mostly feeds on carrion, but it can also catch small animals when the opportunity presents itself. Black Vultures usually feed in flocks and find their food by soaring high overhead and watching for dead animals as well as following other vultures to food sources.
The Black Vulture lays eggs on the ground inside caves, abandoned buildings, hollow logs, or other dark and protected places. It uses a wide variety of habitats from southern New York west to Arizona and south to Argentina.
- Big, bulky black raptor with a black head, long, broad wings with a patch of white near the wingtip, and a short, broad tail.
- Feeds on freshly killed animals, and, occasionally, small animals.
- Lays eggs on the ground in caves, hollow logs, and other dark and protected places.
- Black Vultures are quiet birds. Once in a while, they make soft, muffled calls that sound like “whuf”.
The Black Vulture is a large, mostly black raptor with broad wings and a short tail. Small groups often soar above wetlands, woodlands, residential areas, and other habitats. Surprisingly, their stomach acid is so strong that their droppings have little to no bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
The Common Grackle is a jay-sized, glossy black bird with pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail. Depending on the lighting, this bird shows metallic purple, blue, green, and bronze highlights.
Males and females look very similar, but females have shorter tails and less iridescence. Both sexes also have stout, black beaks and strong, black legs and feet.
In flight, Common Grackles move up and down as they move through the air. They usually flock together and often forage in farm fields, on lawns, and in other open habitats. These omnivores feed on a variety of items, including insects, seeds, grain, small animals, garbage, and the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
Common Grackles build bulky stick nests, usually in conifers in woodlands, parks, near water, and urban areas.
This species can form big flocks in the winter and lives in a variety of semi-open and open habitats in eastern Canada and the eastern USA.
- Fairly large, black bird with glossy purple, greenish, bronze, or dark blue highlights. It also has pale eyes and a long, wedge-shaped tail.
- Forages for insects, seeds, and other food on the ground in a variety of open habitats.
- Constructs a bulky cup nest in a conifer.
- Common Grackles are vocal birds. They frequently give raspy, metallic calls, “Sherink!”, and “kek” calls.
The Common Grackle is a common, glossy black bird with pale eyes. It usually occurs in flocks in open and park-like habitats. This species occasionally nests in odd places, including occupied nests of Great Blue Herons and Ospreys!
Scientific name: Spizella pusilla
Length: 5.75 inches
Weight: .44 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
The Field Sparrow is a small, plain sparrow with a finch-like, pink beak and a white eyering. Male and females look alike and have a longish, gray tail, a gray face with a rufous and gray crown, and plain, unmarked gray or gray and buff underparts.
They also have some streaks on their back and brown and gray, rounded wings with two pale wing bars.
Field Sparrows eat seeds and insects. They usually forage on and near the ground and form flocks in winter.
This sparrow species uses grass stems and small sticks to make an open cup nest on or near the ground in shrubby habitats.
True to its name, this sparrow occurs in old, shrubby fields and scrubby second growth. It breeds in parts of southeastern Canada and most of the USA east of the Rocky Mountains. It does not breed in most of Texas, Louisiana, or Florida but winters in those states.
- Plain brown and gray sparrow with a pink beak and white eyering on a plain face.
- Forages on and near the ground for seeds and insects.
- Makes an open, cup nest of sticks on or near the ground.
- Its sweet, “bouncing ball” song is a common summer sound in many areas, ““peer..peer..peerpepepetetetetettittititti””. It also makes high-pitched chip notes.
The Field Sparrow is a plain brown and gray sparrow with a pinkish beak, rufous crown, and white eyering. It lives in weedy fields and other scrubby, second-growth habitats. Field Sparrows will not nest near people and have declined as suburbs have expanded into open habitats.
Scientific name: Momothrus ater
Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 1.5 ounces
Wingspan: 12 inches
Song: “qwuipuh see!”
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a smallish blackbird with a short beak and fairly long wings. Males are glossy black with a dark brown head. Female Brown-headed Cowbirds are brownhish birds with a dark beak, black eyes, and a white throat.
These small blackbirds forage for seeds and insects on the ground. They usually occur in flocks that forage on pastures and around farms. Cowbirds do most of their foraging with cows, horses, or other large animals to catch insects that the big mammals scare out of hiding.
Brown-headed Cowbirds do not build a nest. Instead, females lay eggs in nests of other birds. Host species can be Northern Cardinals, various warblers, vireos, and many other small birds.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is dependent on cattle, horses, and other large grazing mammals but occurs in a wide variety of habitats. It prefers fields, pastures, and other open areas and lives in southern and western Canada, the USA, and much of Mexico.
- Smallish blackbird with a brown head and rather short beak. Females are brownish with a white throat.
- Flocks forage for seeds and insects on the ground.
- Lays eggs in nests of other birds.
- This species is fairly vocal and often makes a rattling call. Males sing a brief song with bubbly and high-pitched notes, “qwuipuh see!”.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a smallish blackbird with a short beak and brown head (male), or is gray with a white throat (female). This species flocks together and is very common in pastures and farming areas. Brown-headed Cowbirds have laid their eggs in nests of more than 220 species.
Scientific name: Passerina cyanea
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .51 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “seet seet, sweet sweet, chip chup, swee sweet”
The Indigo Bunting is a small, finch-like bird with a grayish finch-like beak. Around the same size as a sparrow, males are deep, dark blue birds with some black on their face, wings, and tail.
Females are pale-brown birds with some white on their throat and belly, a hint of a buffy eyering, and two buff wing bars. They also have some faint streaks on their underparts and bits of blue on their rump, wings, and tail.
Indigo Buntings feed on insects, seeds, and some berries. They find food on the ground and also take seeds and berries while perched.
The Indigo Bunting uses grass and other bits of plant matter to make an open cup nest. They build their nests in shrubs and other low, dense vegetation.
This beautiful Tennessee bird is a summer resident in forest edge and brushy habitats in southeastern Canada, the eastern and central USA, and in parts of the American Southwest.
- Sparrow-sized bird with a finch-like beak. Males are deep, dark blue. Females are mostly pale brown with faint streaks below and some buff highlights.
- Feeds on insects, seeds, and berries in brushy habitats.
- Makes an open cup nest with soft bark and other soft plant matter.
- Often makes a sharp call, “Pik!”. It also sings a halting song, “seet seet, sweet sweet, chip chup, swee sweet”.
The Indigo Bunting is a sparrow-sized, dark blue and black, or pale brown and buff bird of brushy habitats. Male Indigo Buntings appear blue because of the way microscopic structures in their blackish plumage refract and reflect blue light waves.
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
Length: 3.75 inches
Weight: .11 ounces
Wingspan: 4.5 inches
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are tiny birds with long, sharp, needle-like beaks. Males are green above and grayish-green below with a broad white semi-collar on their breast and neck. They also have a dark, forked tail, and a glittering orange-red throat.
Females have a pale throat, a small white spot behind each eye, and black and white on the tip of their tail.
This hummingbird species feeds on nectar and tiny insects. It takes nectar from a variety of small flowers and visits hummingbird feeders. They also catch small insects in flight.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds make small cup nests out of lichen, spider webs, and plant matter. The female constructs the nest on a branch of a tree, often high up.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds breed in woodland habitats in central and southeastern Canada, and the eastern USA, which makes them one of the most common birds of Tennessee.
They migrate to Mexico and Central America for the winter.
- Tiny greenish bird with a long, straight beak. Males have glittering red throats, and females have pale throats and a small white spot behind the eye.
- Takes nectar from flowers, visits hummingbird feeders, and eats tiny insects.
- Makes a small cup nest of lichen, spider webs, and plant matter in a tree.
- The Ruby-throated Hummingbird makes lots of chipping and sputtering calls. They often sound like, “tik,chickechikchicktiktik”.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a tiny bird and the only hummingbird species that breeds east of the Rocky Mountains. They live in wooded habitats and often visit gardens. During migration, many individuals of this migrant species fly hundreds of miles across the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions about Birds of Tennessee
How many bird species are native to Tennessee?
In total, 423 bird species are native to Tennessee. There are 423 birds on the state’s official bird list.
What is the most common bird in Tennessee?
The most common bird in Tennessee is the Northern Cardinal. Sightings in eBird show that this beautiful bird has been seen more than any other bird in the state.
What is the largest bird in Tennessee?
The largest bird in Tennessee is the American White Pelican. This big bird has a length of 62 inches and a wingspan of nine feet. Another large bird species in Tennessee is the Trumpeter Swan; a species that is 60 inches long, has a wingspan of 80 inches, and weighs 23 pounds.
What is the smallest bird in Tennessee?
The smallest bird in Tennessee is the Calliope Hummingbird. This small rare migrant to Tennessee is 3.25 inches.
What is the fastest bird in Tennessee?
The fastest bird in Tennessee is the Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in the world and can reach flight speeds of 200 miles per hour!