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State of Tennessee

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos ©Charles J Sharp - Creative Commons Website

Birding Tennessee

From the Mississippi River at Memphis to the 6,600ft high mountain peaks along its eastern border, Tennessee offers the greatest variety of bird habitats of any landlocked state in the east of the US. Around 390 species have been recorded in the state, and about 175 species regularly nest here.

From west to east, Tennessee spans nine physio-graphic regions, each of which contains prime birding spots. Some of these physio-graphic regions also host species rarely found elsewhere in the state. Mississippi Kites, Fish Crows, and Painted Buntings most often occur in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, a narrow strip along Tennessee's western border. Prime birding spots in this region are the Reelfoot Lake area, Lower Hatchie Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Lake Wildife Management Area, Meeman-Shelby State Forest, and the Ensley Bottoms. The Black-Capped Chickadee is restricted to the Blue Ridge Mountains along the eastern border, where prime birding spots include Shady Valley, parts of Cherokee National Forest including Roan Mountain, Unaka Mountain and the Cherohala Skyway, and the world famous Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Between these ends of the state are the Loess Plain, Coastal Plain Uplands, Western Highland Rim, Central Basin, Eastern Highland Rim, Cumberland Plateau, and Ridge and Valley physiographic regions. Although they are not as distinctive in their vegetation and bird communities as the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Blue Ridge, they each offer prime birding spots, many of which are on readily accessible public lands and waters.

The birds of Tennessee have been well studied since the early 20th century, largely through the efforts of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. The TOS has a network of local chapters in most of the larger cities. Most of these chapters hold regular field trips, and visitors are enthusiastically welcomed. Local contacts are available through the TOS web site. The web site also includes the TOS newsletter, the official state list, and a growing online bird-finding guide.


Charles (Chuck) P Nicholson




Number of Species

Number of bird species: 409

As bat April 2014


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee

John C. Robinson Hardcover - 274 pages (July 1990) University of Tennessee Press

ISBN: 0870496425

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Tennessee

Charles P. Nicholson Hardcover - 504 pages (January 1998) University of Tennessee Press

ISBN: 0870499874

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

State Bird

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos


Audubon Society in Tennessee


Usual list of local chapters.

Bristol Bird Club

The Bristol Bird Club had it's first meeting March 3, 1950. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, except June and September, 7:30 pm, at the Bristol, Va. Public Library. We have members from a large area in Virginia and Tennessee. Everyone is welcome to join…

Cumberland-Harpeth Audubon Society

Facebook Page

Cumberland-Harpeth Audubon Society is an outdoor social group focusing on environmental conservation and natural activities with birds in mind!

Memphis Audubon Society

Memphis Audubon Society seeks to raise public awareness and involvement in issues that impact the well-being of the ecosystems that we and all other species call home. We play a central role in organizing the annual Memphis Earth Day Birthday (April 18 and 19, 1997) in Memphis' beautiful Overton Park, home of the famous 175 acre old growth mixed hardwood forest that stopped I-40 from cutting through Midtown Memphis. We lobby our elected officials on a wide range of local, state and national environmental issues. We're assisting area students in efforts to establish meaningful environmental clubs on their campuses…

Nature Conservancy in Tennessee


The opening picture is of a tract of land… Help us save this land. In March, The Nature Conservancy's Tennessee chapter made a public appeal for financial help to purchase 1,541 acres of northern Cumberland Plateau hardwood forest known as Jim Creek or Horseshoe Cliff in Pickett and Fentress counties…

Tennessee Ornithological Society


The Tennessee Orntithological Society was founded in 1915 to promote the enjoyment, scientific study, and conservation of birds. The TOS publishes a quarterly journal, The Migrant, and a newsletter, The Tennessee Warbler, and holds statewide meetings. It is also a federation of local chapters which hold regular meetings and field trips.

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Chattanooga Chapter


The Chattanooga Chapter of TOS is devoted to the study and enjoyment of birds. The Chat, a newsletter for the members, is published monthly . The Chattanooga Chapter of TOS is a non-profit organization that is devoted to the study of birds in the South east Tennessee and North Georgia region…

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Knoxville Chapter


The Chapter was organized on Jan. 13, 1924, after a 14-year incubation period. For 18 years we were known as the East Tennessee Ornithological Society. H.P. and Alice Yoe Ijams bought a home on Island Home Avenue and began developing it as a bird sanctuary. He was a commercial artist with The Knoxville News-Sentinel and designed the cover for The Migrant that was used for every issue up until recently…

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Memphis Chapter


The Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society was first organized in 1912 as the West Tennessee Audubon Society and became officially affiliated with TOS in 1929…

Tennessee Ornithological Society - Nashville Chapter

Facebook Page

NTOS welcomes all who have interest in enjoying, learning about, and conserving Tennessee's native birds….

Tennessee Ornithological Society Records Committee


The Tennessee Bird Records Committee maintains the official state list of wild birds on behalf of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. Documentation of evidence of new or rare species may be submitted to the committee for review and inclusion into the Tennessee database. The committee is currently putting together a system of status codes for each species that has occurred in the state. The initial list will be published in The Warbler for review…

Warioto Audubon Society

Facebook Page

The Warioto Chapter of the National Audubon Society is located in Clarksville, Tennessee. We are a chapter of the National Audubon Society, Inc. Our members have an interest in birds, conservation and nature. We welcome everyone from beginners to experts to join us…


Abbreviations Key

Reelfoot Lake NWR


Satellite View

Reelfoot Lake offers year-round wildlife viewing with habitats that attract river otter, white-tailed deer, beaver, coyote, as well as the great blue heron, great and cattle egret, osprey, insects, and songbirds in profusion. Hundreds of bald eagles winter here, with peak numbers occurring December through February; look for them perching along lakeshore, or following commercial fishermen. A smaller number of eagles are year-round residents.

Tennessee NWR - Big Sandy


Satellite View

The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 50,000 acres on and around Kentucky Lake in northwest Tennessee. The refuge's three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch for 65 miles along the Tennessee River. Established in 1945, the refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an important resting and feeding area for wintering waterfowl, as well as, many migratory birds and resident wildlife

Tennessee NWR - Duck River


Satellite View

The Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 50,000 acres on and around Kentucky Lake in northwest Tennessee. The refuge's three units, Big Sandy, Duck River, and Busseltown, stretch for 65 miles along the Tennessee River. Established in 1945, the refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an important resting and feeding area for wintering waterfowl, as well as, many migratory birds and resident wildlife…

Forums & Mailing Lists

Tennessee Birding

Mailing List

Mailing List – Discussion Group - (U.S.) Tennessee's birding listserv, 330+ subscribers. We share birding trip reports, natural history observations, rare bird sightings, and outing/meeting schedules. Tennessee extends from the Appalachian Mtns (tallest peak a subalpine 6642ft) west to the Mississippi River, perhaps the continent's premier migration flyway. Tremendous habitat diversity and an official state checklist of ~330 species, and very knowledgeable and colorful contributors.

Valley Birds

Mailing List

To post to list: jwcoffey@tricon.net

List contact: Wallace Coffey (jwcoffey@tricon.net)

To subscribe to list: jwcoffey@tricon.net

Virginia, Tennessee, Northern Alabama & Georgia, (Shenandoah Valley, etc.)

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

Birding Ecotours, a leader in small group and custom-made birding adventures worldwide, offers an amazing tour to the Great Smokey Mountains in May to witness spring migration, and seek out challenging species such as Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will’s-widow!

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2013 [05 May] - Mike Nelson

Report PDF

…We started out with one of the local migrant traps, picking up some of the common species like Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Grey Catbird, Eastern Towhee and Brown Thrasher. We encountered some good Warblers, with Cape May and Magnolia being the two stand-outs…

2016 [05 May] - Bruce Wedderburn - SE USA


This was a two-month trip to southeast USA for Yvonne and myself, from late March through to late May, with a focus on the Spring migration, in particular the highly varied and colourful warblers. The trip commenced in Dallas in early Spring and involved touring through Texas along the Mexican border, following the Gulf of Mexico around to Florida as far south as Key West, then heading north up the east coast of the USA, then inland to the Appalachian Ranges in North Carolina, before heading west for our return trip to Dallas. Qantas has direct flights from Sydney to Dallas which avoids flying on any internal flights within the USA.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Cinnamon Ridge B&B


Spend leisure time in a front porch rocker watching squirrels and birds play across acres of manicured lawn. Enjoy the restful countryside as you drive through picturesque rolling hills, and perhaps a free tour of Jack Daniel's Distillery. Recreation areas abound.

Iron Mountain Inn B&B


You can spa under the stars at the chalet for a romantic rendezvous on our wrap around deck… or you can simply relax in the spa or watch the animals and birds pass by.


Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival


Whether you’re an avid birder or you’ve never seen a Sandhill Crane before, the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival represents an extraordinary opportunity to witness a natural phenomenon that is truly unforgettable...


McClung Museum - Birds of the World


Bird illustrations are both art and science. In the days before photography, the illustrations manifested details most humans did not have the opportunity to see. The McClung Museum has a notable collection of bird illustrations, thanks to the generosity of two couples, the late Mr. and Mrs. John L. Greer of Knoxville and Mr. and Mrs. Joel E. Rynning of Atlanta.

Other Links

Birdwatching in Chattanooga


Birdwatchers enjoy combing the beautiful Chattanooga area for a wide variety of colorful and rare birds. The great diversity of natural habitat attracts many different species of songbirds, waterbirds, and raptors. Bald Eagles are frequently seen over the Tennessee River, and the Peregrine Falcon, which was once almost extinct as a result of pesticide poisoning, is beginning to nest here again. Chattanooga is also an important migration corridor for many birds, including spectacular numbers of Sandhill Cranes.

Photographers & Artists

Artist - Wes & Rachelle Siegrist


Discover inside our available paintings and miniatures of wildlife art, fact-filled newsletter, Artist's statements, step by step paintings, personal photos, upcoming exhibits and insights into our world. View Wes's paintings of the Florida Panther used to illustrate a Nature Conservancy Habitat book. Join our rapidly growing family of online visitors and collectors.