The Birds of Tennessee & Kentucky

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    Tennessee and Kentucky Ornithological Societies

    • Both the Tennessee and Kentucky Ornithological Societies follow the American Ornithologists' Union checklist of North American birds. They put each bird under one of five categories. These are: regular -- the bird has been recorded in nine of the last 10 years; casual --- the bird has been recorded in four to eight of the last 10 years; accidental -- there are three or less recordings in the last ten years and extirpated -- formerly regular but no longer recorded. The last category is extinct, which means that the bird no longer lives anywhere. Unlike Tennessee, Kentucky also differentiates birds that breed or used to breed in that state.


    • The mockingbird was adopted as the official state bird of Tennessee in 1933. These are birds of medium size with long tails and legs. Males and females are similar in appearance, although the male is larger. Distinctive features are greyish brown upper feathers with a large white patch on each wing. Their bills are long, black and somewhat curved.

    Kentucky Cardinal

    • The Kentucky Cardinal, also known as the Red Bird, was officially selected as the state bird for Kentucky in 1926. These birds are of a medium size and are songbirds. The distinctive features of the male are that they are bright red with a black mask on their faces. Females are light brown, sometimes with a green tinge, and they do not have a mask-like feature. Both males and females have a crest of feathers on their heads.

    Other Birds

    • Tennessee and Kentucky are ecologically diverse states and you can find many bird species in them. These include the Brewer's, Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds, the Eastern Bluebird, Snow Bunting and Red Cross-bill in Kentucky. In Tennessee, some commonly found birds are the Scarlet Tanager, the Louisiana Water Thrush, the Oven Bird and the Worm Eating Warbler. Two more interesting species in Tennessee are the Northern Paralus and Yellow Throated Warblers.

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