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Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Ellington Agricultural Center
440 Hogan Road
Nashville, TN 37220
(615) 781-6500
Bird Conservation in Tennessee 2018

Tennessee is lucky to have a bird conservation coordinator employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. David Hanni has his finger on the pulse of all things bird conservation-related in Tennessee. He recently provided this overview of the status of birds in Tennessee as well as current research and conservation projects centered on birds.

From the muddy Mississippi to the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee hosts more than 400 species of birds, whether they are migrating through, overwintering, breeding in spring and summer, rare visitors, or year-round residents. Of those, Tennessee hosts 2 species with legal federal designations:


Federal Threatened and Endangered

  • Least Tern (Interior Population)
  • Whooping Crane (Experimental Population)

The following species are designated as State Species in Need of Management:

  • Golden Eagle
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Wood Thrush
  • Least Bittern
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Swainson's Warbler
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • King Rail
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Bewick's Wren

Tennessee's 2015 revision to the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) lists 81 bird species of Greatest Conservation Need (GCN), which means these species have been selected as priorities for conservation work on the basis of the species' global and state conservation status and legal designations, as well as additional factors such as declining populations or habitat condition trends.
To address the needs of priority bird species in Tennessee, several projects have been ongoing for the past 5 years or so.

Colonial Waterbird Surveys
This program is conducted a baseline inventory in 2016, using aerial surveys (because it is easy to identify colonies by air) combined with nest searches on the ground, to compare to 2012 results. The results show Double-crested Cormorant expansion throughout the state. Cormorants may be outcompeting other tree and shrub nesting colonial waterbirds, given the trend in numbers of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night Herons (see Pear Island at right).

Eastern Golden Eagle
This ongoing project is increasing our understanding of the the use of habitat during the winter in Tennessee, along with our understanding of winter Golden Eagle distribution and occurrence in Tennessee. Using transmitters attached to birds at banding stations in a number of Wildlife Management Areas, data from the eagles' movements have shown their breeding origins, migratory routes, and timing of migration. This is allowing TWRA to develop appropriate conservation and management strategies with partner agencies and organizations.

Additional Bird Projects
TWRA is actively participating in the following to advance bird conservation in Tennessee:

To accomplish these projects plus many other responsibilities related to birds and habitat management in Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency collaborates with:

For more information about bird conservation groups in Tennessee (local/regional/national) visit Tennessee Watchable Wildlife's links to related groups. If you are just starting to bird watch, check out TWW's photo list of 100 common birds of Tennessee.

View or download an illustrated bird conservation factsheet pdf with photos.


View all recent projects

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