Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains are known for their beautiful birds.
"In winter, birders visit lakes and marshes for waterfowl and grassy fields for sparrows. Nashville's Radnor Lake and Knoxville's Sharps Ridge are among the best sites during spring migration."
Tennessee Birding Hotspots
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park
"This popular U.S. national park ranks among the world's most important natural areas, with a diversity that's nearly unmatched in the temperate zone. The park's elevation ranges from 875 to 6,643 feet, providing a chance to see an equally wide array of birds."
Low- and mid-elevation trails offer fine birding for typical southeastern species, such as Pileated Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Wood Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Indigo Bunting. Other birds include Ruffed Grouse, Blue-headed Vireo, Ovenbird, and the beautiful Hooded Warbler, Wild Turkeys are all favorites of visiting birders.
"This lofty upland (6,285 feet) provides an opportunity to find many of the special species of high Appalachian Mountains."
Species such as Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Least Flycatcher, Golden-winged Warbler, and Chestnut-sided Warbler are there. As the road approaches and reaches Carver's Gap in the Cherokee National Forest, possible species include Alder Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Pine Siskin.
Frozen Head State Park
"This 24,000-acre park in the Cumberland Mountains is noted for its beauty as well as being among the westernmost points in Tennessee for high-elevation nesting birds such as Veery, Canada Warbler, and Blackburnian Warbler."
This location includes Ruffed Grouse, Broad-winged Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
"Long a favorite trail for birders in Chattanooga, this path is part of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway. From a parking lot at the corner of Shallowford Road and N. Moore Road, climb stairs to the trail atop the levee and walk east."
At least 18 species of shorebirds can be found here. Some of the include migrants like the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs to rare spots including Baird's Sandpiper. Wading birds frequent the wetlands, including herons, egrets, night-herons, ibises, and the occasional bittern. Wood Duck and Mallard are present all year, and in winter another 15 species of ducks have been found.
Bald Eagle and Osprey are found regularly along the Brainerd Levee, along with year-round Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Red-shouldered Hawk. Pines in the area are home to Brown-headed Nuthatch, and nesting species include Tree Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole.
Seven Islands State Birding Park
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Check out these great photos shared with us from park visitors of some of the birds seen at Seven Islands! How many of these feathered friends have you seen while visiting the park? If you have some great photos that you would like to share with us too, please send them to us either through Facebook or Instagram or to Ranger Stephanie at [email protected] If it is possible for us to share them on our social media pages, please let us know. These photos are courtesy of Howard Cox and Rebecca Boyd.
"Located on 416 acres of former agricultural land, Seven Islands is being managed to restore natural forest and grassland. Nearly 200 species of birds have been recorded in the park, which is also used for educational programs."
Nesting birds include Wood Duck, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, American Kestrel, Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Prothonotary Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Grasshopper Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole. Bald Eagle is often seen near the river.
Sharps Ridge Memorial Park
Although it can be somewhat productive in fall, the period from late March through May is when this park really shines.
"Nearly 150 species have been seen at the park. The typical birds of eastern woodland are present. Including migrants, the list comprises six species of vireo, seven thrushes, and more than 30 warblers, in addition to Olive-sided Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, and Baltimore Oriole. "
Radnor Lake State Park
"Birders treasure this 1,332-acre park in southern Nashville as a natural green space in a rapidly growing city. It's long been a favorite birding destination, especially in spring migration when visitors can find an array of flycatchers,vireos, thrushes, warblers, and tanagers."
Nesting species at Radnor Lake are Wood Duck, Wild Turkey, Green Heron, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Northern Parula, and Scarlet Tanager.
In winter, birders visit the area to see ducks on Radnor Lake, including both dabbling species such as Gadwall, American Wigeon, and Northern Shoveler and diving ducks like Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead.
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge -- Big Sandy Unit
Here you'll find one of the best spots for wintering geese, ducks, loons, and grebes. Bird species seen here with some regularity are Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe and Golden Eagle.
"The site includes about 7,000 acres of deciduous forest with a good sampling of eastern songbirds, including Wood Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Hooded Warbler, and possibly Cerulean Warbler. Including migrants, 30 species of warblers have been found at the Big Sandy Unit. Brushy and grassy fields around the refuge are productive for finding wintering sparrows."
"Reelfoot Lake, in large part a flooded forest of beautiful bald-cypress trees, is most famous as home to the iconic Bald Eagle. Many pairs nest around the lake, and in winter hundreds of eagles gather here. Reelfoot is also known as a spot to find an occasional Golden Eagle, a scarce bird in this part of the country. Mississippi Kite and Osprey nest here.
The list of possible species is lengthy, from abundant winter waterfowl to wading birds in summer to breeding songbirds including Eastern Bluebird, Prothonotary Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Northern Parula, Swainson's Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Blue Grosbeak."
The most common birds seen in Tennessee?
The Goldfinch, The Northern Cardinal, The Indigo Bunting, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, The Blue Jay, The Pine Warbler, The American Redstart, The Northern Parula, The Tufted Titmouse, and The Purple Finch.
Don't forget about the House Finch, Downy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, American Robin, Carolina Wren, White-Throated Sparrow, Mourning Dove, House Sparrow, American Crow, Thrasher, Great Blue Heron, Hummingbird and the Common Grackle.
Have you ever seen or heard of these wild birds? Please leave us a comment below!