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Author Topic: BIRDS OF TENNESSEE  (Read 5195 times)

Phyl

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BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« on: July 06, 2021, 12:45:11 AM »

Several times a month I'll be posting a profile of a different native bird to The Volunteer State.
Most of the photos will enlarge when clicked upon.
All information is from  Tennessee State Government, wildlife pages.
I hope you find the thread informative and interesting.
Replies are welcomed.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 11:03:50 AM by Phyl »
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2021, 12:45:53 AM »

Canada Goose
Branta canadensis


Obsolete English Names: cackling goose, wild goose, Canadian goose, ring-necked goose, tundra goose, white-cheeked goose, honker

The Canada Goose is the only goose that nests in Tennessee.  It is a year round resident of the state and numbers swell in the winter when resident birds are joined by more northerly nesters.
The range of the Canada Goose extends from central Alaska across Canada southward to the central United States, and it winters where there is open water in the lower 48 states.
The Canada Goose was extirpated from Tennessee in the late 19th century, but starting in 1966 TWRA, later assisted by TVA, successfully established a non-migratory resident population.  This reintroduction was so successful that these geese have become a nuisance in a few parks and golf courses.

Description: Males and females are similar in size and appearance. They can be identified by their black heads and necks marked with a contrasting white “chinstrap.” The back is brown, the chest and belly are pale, and the tail is black with a white rump band.

Length: 45"

Wingspan: 60"

Weight: 9.8 lbs.

Voice: The call is a distinct and musical honking. Mated pairs will often honk back and forth in flight.
Habitat: Always found near water, Canada Geese are common in wetlands, city ponds, lakes, lawns, and grassy fields. In winter they often forage on grain in agricultural fields.

Diet: Aquatic vegetation, grasses, grains, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and occasionally small fish.

Nesting and reproduction: Canada Geese form long-term pair bonds. Nest building in Tennessee begins in late March or early April.

Clutch Size: 4 to 7 eggs, occasionally as many as 10.

Incubation: The female alone incubates for 25 to 30 days while the male guards her and the nest.

Fledging: Young leave the nest within 2 days of hatching and will stay with the parents into the winter months.

Nest: The female selects the nest site and builds the nest of grasses and forbs, and lined with body feathers. It is always placed near water, usually on a slightly elevated site with a fairly unobstructed view.

Status in Tennessee: Canada Geese are fairly common nesters in Middle and East Tennessee and rare in West Tennessee.  In winter they are most numerous in West Tennessee when the Tennessee population is joined by more northerly nesters.
Maximum numbers occur from late November through March, but due to warmer winters fewer Canada Geese winter in Tennessee than in the recent past.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 11:04:10 AM by Phyl »
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2021, 01:38:06 AM »

Wood Duck
Aix sponsa



The Wood Duck is the most common nesting duck in Tennessee, and many consider it to be the most beautiful of North America’s waterfowl.  It is found in forested wetlands, riparian habitats, and freshwater marshes.  The Wood Duck is a cavity nester and where cavities are scarce, it readily accepts nest boxes.
This species was nearly hunted to extinction by the early 1900s.  With the protection provided by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, along with recovering populations of beavers creating wetland habitat and the widespread erection of artificial nest boxes, the species has recovered.
The breeding range of the Wood Duck extends from southern Canada, throughout the eastern half of the United States, along the Pacific Coast and scattered locations inland. This duck winters in the southern three-quarters of the breeding range, and in the southwestern United States.

Wood Ducks are uncommon to locally common across the state during the breeding season, with smaller numbers present in the winter.

Description: The male Wood Duck has a brightly patterned iridescent-green and white head, with a long crest, a red bill and eye, a black back, a dark reddish chest, and pale golden sides.

The female is overall gray-brown with a white patch around the eye, and a bushy crest on the head.  From June-September the male is in “eclipse plumage” and resembles the female, but retains the head pattern and has a mostly red bill.

In flight, both the male and female show a green patch (speculum) in the wing and a white belly.
Length: 18.5"
Wingspan: 30"
Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Voice: The upward-slurred flight-call of the female is distinctive. The male’s call is a high, thin, drawn-out jeweep.

Similar Species:

Breeding male Wood Ducks are unmistakable.
Female Hooded Mergansers are similar to female Wood Ducks in shape and are found in similar habitats, but lack white around the eye, and have a white, not green, patch in the wing.
Habitat: Lakes, streams, and swamps with adjacent forest.
Diet: Seeds, acorns, aquatic and terrestrial insects, other invertebrates.

Nesting and reproduction: Wood Ducks nest in natural cavities, often in sycamore and beech trees, or abandoned Pileated Woodpecker holes, and readily accept nest boxes.  In Tennessee, pairs start selecting nest sites in late February and may produce two broods in a year. Nest Box Instructions here.

Clutch Size: Range from10 to15 eggs, with 12 eggs most frequent.

Incubation: The female incubates for 28 to 37 days.

Fledging: The young leave the nest within 2 days of hatching and stay with a female.

Nest: Wood Ducks prefer natural tree cavities, but readily accept artificial nest boxes when cavities are limited  The cavity is lined with wood chips and down.  Most cavities are over or near water but may be up to a mile from wetlands.

Status in Tennessee: The Wood Duck is a locally common breeding species and uncommon wintering duck across the state.  After dramatic declines in the early 1900s, the Tennessee population has been increasing since the early 1960s.  This increase is the result of maturing woodlands across the state and an aggressive nest box programs on public and private lands promoted by TWRA.

Dynamic map of Wood Duck eBird observations in Tennessee

Obsolete English Names: acorn duck, carolina duck, summer duck

Best places to see in Tennessee: Forested wetlands across the state. Nest boxes are provided at most National Wildlife Refuges and TWRA Wildlife Management Areas with suitable habitat.

Fun Facts:
Wood Ducks were nearly hunted to extinction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Management efforts have been successful and there are now well over a million Wood Ducks in North America.
If nest boxes are placed too close together, several females may lay eggs in the nests of other females. These "dump" nests can have up to 40 eggs.
After hatching, the female stands on the ground and calls to the young. The ducklings jump from the nest tree, from heights up to 290 feet without injury, and follow her to water.

Wood Duck Aix sponsa, Range Map

Sources:
Hepp, G. R., and F. C. Bellrose. 1995. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). The Birds of North America, No. 169 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Sources:
Hepp, G. R., and F. C. Bellrose. 1995. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). The Birds of North America, No. 169 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2021, 06:26:54 PM »

Mallard,
Anas platyrhynchos




The Mallard is the most abundant, widespread, and familiar duck in North America.  The breeding range extends across most of Canada and the northern half of the United States, and it spends the winter where it finds open water in the lower 48 states.

The Mallard is most common in Tennessee during the non-breeding season, especially in West Tennessee, with peak numbers occurring from October through February. It is an uncommon breeding bird across the state.

Hunters routinely refer to male Mallards as greenhead ducks and to females Mallards as suzies.

Description: The male is easily identified with its iridescent green head, bright yellow bill, and curled short central black tail feathers. These curled tail feathers are unique to the male Mallard.

The female is mottled brown overall, with an orange bill marked with black. Both sexes have red-orange legs, a mostly white tail, and a bright blue patch on the rear of the upper-wing that is bordered in white.

Length: 23"
Wingspan: 35"
Weight: 2.4 lbs.

Voice: It's the female that gives the characteristic quack and the familiar descending laughing series of quacks. Males make a softer, rasping rab during courtship.

Similar Species:

American Black Ducks look similar to female Mallards but are darker, have an all-dark tail, and have no white borders to their purplish wing-patch.
Male Northern Shovelers also have a green head, but also have a large broad bill and a white chest.
Other female dabbling ducks look very similar to the female Mallard, but the Mallard is the only one with a blue speculum bordered by white.
Habitat: Ponds, lakes, and open and forested wetlands.

Diet: Insects, aquatic invertebrates, seeds, acorns, aquatic vegetation, grain.

Nesting and reproduction: Pairing among Mallards takes place in the fall, and pairs stay together all winter. Egg laying begins as early as late February and extends through May. The male does not participate in nesting activities after incubation begins.

Clutch Size: Usually 7 to 10 eggs, but occasionally up to 15 eggs.

Incubation: The female alone incubates the eggs for 27 to 28 days

Fledging: The young leave the nest within 2 days of hatching and are able to fly in 8 weeks.

Nest: The female builds a bowl of grasses and other plant material, and lines it with down feathers from her breast. The nest is placed in a fallen log, on a small island in a marsh, or under a dense bush near water.

Status in Tennessee: The Mallard is common in winter (October through February) across the state, especially in Middle and West Tennessee. It breeds in all parts of the state, but is not common in any region.

Dynamic map of Mallard eBird observations in Tennessee


Fun Facts:

Historically the Mallard was a rare breeding bird in Tennessee. It is thought that the current breeding population is descended from crippled wild ducks, escaped domestic ducks, and ducks stocked by waterfowl enthusiasts and conservation agencies.
The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck). Many of the domestic breeds look like the wild birds, but usually are larger.
The Mallard is the most abundant and widespread of all waterfowl; every year hunters harvest millions of birds with little effect on the overall population. The greatest threat to mallards is habitat loss.
Mallards hybridize with wild species such as the closely related American Black Duck and even occasionally with Northern Pintails.
The oldest known Mallard in the wild was 27 years 7 months old.
Obsolete English Names: green-head duck, green-headed duck

Best places to see in Tennessee: Most abundant in the state from October through February especially in Middle and West Tennessee.

Can be found at most waterfowl refuges across the state. Hundreds to thousands spend the winter in and around Reelfoot Lake.

For more information:

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Sources:
Drilling, N., R. Titman, and F. McKinney. 2002. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). The Birds of North America, No. 658 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.

'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2021, 06:33:42 PM »

Wild Turkey
Meleagris gallopavo



Wild Turkeys are the largest bird nesting in Tennessee.  This large-bodied, big-footed species only flies short distances, but roosts in trees at night. The historic range of Wild Turkey extended from southern Canada throughout the United States to central Mexico. The eastern subspecies occurs in Tennessee.

It was a very important food animal to Native Americans and early settlers, but by the early 1900s over-hunting eliminated this species from most of its range, including much of Tennessee.  Modern wildlife management has reestablished this bird throughout its historic range and into 49 of the 50 United States.

Description: A Wild Turkey is a large, dark ground-dwelling bird.  Males are larger than females.  In late winter and spring when the male is courting females, he has a white forehead, bright blue face, and scarlet neck.  All males and some females have a tuft of modified feathers on the chest called a beard.

Length: Male 46", Female 37"
Wingspan: Male 64", Female 50"
Weight: Male 16.2 lbs., Female 9.2 lbs.

Voice: Male makes a fast descending gobble, gobble, gobble and females make a loud, sharp tuk, similar to a chipmunk.

Similar Species:

Domestic turkeys can look similar but have a white tip to the tail (similar to some of the western U.S. subspecies).

Habitat: Mature woodlands with scattered openings or fields.

Diet: Acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, buds, fern fronds, salamanders.

Nesting and reproduction: Males begin vying for females starting in late winter or early spring and attract females by gobbling. When the female appears, he puffs up his body feathers, and struts around her with his tail spread and wingtips dragging on the ground.

Dominant males will mate with several females in one season, but the female alone builds the nest and cares for the young.

Clutch Size: Ranges from 7 to 14 eggs with an average of 11 eggs.

Incubation: The female incubates the eggs for 27 to 28 days.

Fledging: The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and follow the female. They begin to fly at 6 to 10 days old. Male young remain with the female until the fall; female young remain with the female until the spring.

Nest: The nest is a simple depression on the ground lined with dead leaves or grass, usually placed at the base of a tree or bush and concealed in thick vegetation.

Status in Tennessee: The Wild Turkey is a common to uncommon permanent resident throughout the state.  By the early 1900's populations had crashed due to unrestricted hunting, land clearing, and the loss of the American Chestnut, which was an important food source.

As a result of reintroduction efforts by TWRA, the Wild Turkey is now found in every county in the state. Winter flocks in Tennessee may exceed 400 individuals.

Keep Wild Turkeys Wild! Find out how you can help.
Wild Turkey Range Map
Dynamic map of Wild Turkey eBird observations in Tennessee


Fun Facts:

The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is one of only two bird species domesticated in the New World; the other is the Muscovy Duck.
In the early 1500s, European explorers took Wild Turkeys from Mexico for domestication in Europe. When Europeans colonized the Atlantic Coast, they brought these domesticated turkeys with them. The Mexican subspecies has a white tip to the tail and this trait can be used in part to distinguish wild from domestic birds.
The male Wild Turkey provides no parental care. The female alone incubates the eggs. The young follow her immediately after hatching, and quickly learn to catch food for themselves. Several females and their broods may form flocks of 30 or more birds.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Found in every county in the state. Good places to see include Natchez Trace Parkway and the Warner Parks in Nashville.

For more information:

National Wild Turkey Federation


Sources:

Eaton, S. W. 1992. Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). The Birds of North America, No. 22 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.


'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2021, 06:42:19 PM »

HELP KEEP WILD TURKEYS WILD!
Most people enjoy observing wildlife, including wild turkeys, and what better way to see them often than to provide food to attract them to your neighborhood?  While this might seem reasonable, what seems like a harmless (or even helpful) practice is not helpful to the turkeys and usually becomes a problem, and can even become a public safety threat—if not for you, then for a neighbor.


Please Do Not Feed Wild Turkeys
Turkeys are opportunistic foragers with a very generalist diet—there’s not much that they don’t eat.  So, it is extremely rare that they cannot find enough to eat on their own.  Of course, what turkey wouldn’t pass up an easy quick meal from a bird feeder or corn pile?  But such food sources can actually be detrimental to the overall health of a turkey population and can lead to unpleasant outcomes for people in the area.

What’s the Harm in Feeding Turkeys?
Turkeys are supposed to move widely and cover large land areas while foraging throughout the day.  While feeding turkeys in residential areas, whether directly or indirectly, seems like it is helpful, repeatedly congregating turkeys into the same area leads to build-up of droppings and unnaturally increases contact between groups of turkeys.  Such conditions produce the perfect environment for disease outbreaks and the spread of disease through a population. Further, feed that is not cleaned up regularly can spoil and mold, which leads to the production of toxic chemicals extremely harmful when ingested by turkeys.

Another problem with feeding turkeys in residential areas is that as turkeys get accustomed to being fed and seeing people, they habituate to people and lose their natural fear of humans.  For a while, this may seem wonderful because people are able to watch turkey behavior up close, even from the comfort of their own homes at times.  However, having turkeys hanging around neighborhoods eventually leads to issues with turkeys scratching up flower beds, pecking cars, and leaving droppings on drive-ways, sidewalks, yards, and porches.  Turkeys disrupt and block the flow of traffic when they congregate in roadways and intersections.  They have even been known to roost on roofs or pool patio screens.



Turkeys Can Become Aggressive
While much of turkey nuisance behavior is relatively benign, over time turkeys begin to show bold and aggressive behavior towards people—particularly children, women, the elderly and anybody who acts fearful and timid.  These turkeys react to people (and sometimes pets) as they would a rival turkey.  Once this bold behavior is established, it can be very difficult to change. 

The best way to prevent turkeys from becoming too used to people and turning aggressive is simply to not feed them and don’t let them become accustomed to living in and around people.

What Should You Do?

If you encounter wild turkeys that 1) do not move to avoid people, 2) approach people, pets or vehicles, or 3) remain in yards or common areas loafing, TWRA recommends aggressive hazing to frighten turkeys out of these areas.  Actions you can take to frighten turkeys include:

Chasing them (without making physical contact) while doing any of the following:
Waving your arms or clapping your hands and yelling at them
Making loud noises with an air horn or by banging pots and pans together
Waving or swatting at them with a broom
Opening and closing a large umbrella while facing them
Spraying them with a strong jet from a water hose
Allowing a large dog on a leash to run and bark at them

Remember to be bold with offending turkeys:  don’t let them intimidate you.  Turkeys that repeatedly challenge or attack people may ultimately have to be destroyed.  Keep turkeys wild to avoid these consequences.  It is rarely an option to trap and relocate nuisance turkeys that have developed these behaviors.


Wild Turkey Photo Credit Jay Exum
Educate Your Neighbors
Finally, pass this information along:  share these tips with your neighbors and encourage other adults in your neighborhood to follow these suggestions, too.  Your efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing food or shelter for turkeys or neglecting to haze bold and aggressive acting turkeys as well.  It requires the efforts of the entire neighborhood to help keep wild turkeys wild!
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2021, 12:43:26 PM »

Pied-billed Grebe
Podilymbus podiceps


The Pied-billed Grebe is a small, brown diving bird found in both fresh and saltwater habitats.  It has the endearing habit of carrying its newly hatched young on its back.  This grebe is seldom seen in flight and evades predators by either diving or simply sinking out of view.

The Pied-billed Grebe has a wide distribution nesting from central Canada across the United States to Central America, the Caribbean, and large parts of South America.  In winter they retreat to the central and southern United States and southward through the Americas.

The Pied-billed Grebe nests in a few scattered locations across Tennessee, but is most common during the non-breeding season from August through April.

Description: This small brown waterbird has a short neck, large head, and a tufted, whitish rump.  The bill is short and thick, and the eye dark. During the breeding season (February-September) the bill is whitish with a black ring around it, and the throat is black.

Males and females look alike.
Length: 13"
Wingspan: 16"
Weight: 1 lb.

Similar Species:
Other grebes are larger, have thinner bills that do not have a black band in summer, and have white patches in the wing that are visible in flight.
Habitat: Migrant and wintering birds are found on lakes and large ponds with submerged aquatic vegetation.  Most breeding records in Tennessee are from shallow ponds and lakes with areas of open water and emergent aquatic vegetation such as rushes, cattails, and grasses.
Diet: Fish, crustaceans (especially crayfish), and aquatic insects.
Nesting and reproduction: Pied-billed Grebes are known to nest in ponds as small as a half acre. Pairs begin nesting in late March and are strongly territorial.
Clutch Size: 4 to 8 eggs, with an average of 7 eggs.
Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for 23 days. The eggs are usually covered with vegetation when adults are off the nest.
Fledging: Young can leave the nest within one day of hatching, but usually stay on the nest platform. Both parents feed the young and may carry them on their backs, even while swimming underwater.  Soon after hatching the young are able to swim on their own.

Nest: Both parents build the nest, which is a floating mass of vegetation in shallow water anchored to emergent vegetation.

Status in Tennessee: The Pied-billed Grebe is a fairly common migrant and winter resident in large bodies of water throughout the state.  During the summer they are rare, breeding in scattered locations across Tennessee.

Most breeding records are from shallow ponds and lakes with open water and standing rushes, cattails, and grasses. Fall migrants and wintering individuals arrive in August and remain into May.

Dynamic map of Pied-billed Grebe eBird observations in Tennessee

Fun Facts:
The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen in flight because it migrates at night. It escapes predators by diving.
Grebes do not have webbed feet like ducks and geese. Instead they have a flap of skin around each toe.
Obsolete English Names: pied-billed dabchick, di-dapper

Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps. Range Map

Best places to see in Tennessee: Most easily seen during the winter in open bodies of water across the state.




'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2021, 09:07:02 PM »

Pied-billed Grebe
Podilymbus podiceps


Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, adult. Photo Credit: Scott Somershoe


The Pied-billed Grebe is a small, brown diving bird found in both fresh and saltwater habitats.  It has the endearing habit of carrying its newly hatched young on its back.  This grebe is seldom seen in flight and evades predators by either diving or simply sinking out of view.

The Pied-billed Grebe has a wide distribution nesting from central Canada across the United States to Central America, the Caribbean, and large parts of South America.  In winter they retreat to the central and southern United States and southward through the Americas.

The Pied-billed Grebe nests in a few scattered locations across Tennessee, but is most common during the non-breeding season from August through April.

Description: This small brown waterbird has a short neck, large head, and a tufted, whitish rump.  The bill is short and thick, and the eye dark. During the breeding season (February-September) the bill is whitish with a black ring around it, and the throat is black.

Males and females look alike.
Length: 13"
Wingspan: 16"
Weight: 1 lb.

Similar Species:
Other grebes are larger, have thinner bills that do not have a black band in summer, and have white patches in the wing that are visible in flight.

Habitat: Migrant and wintering birds are found on lakes and large ponds with submerged aquatic vegetation.  Most breeding records in Tennessee are from shallow ponds and lakes with areas of open water and emergent aquatic vegetation such as rushes, cattails, and grasses.

Diet: Fish, crustaceans (especially crayfish), and aquatic insects.

Nesting and reproduction: Pied-billed Grebes are known to nest in ponds as small as a half acre. Pairs begin nesting in late March and are strongly territorial.

Clutch Size: 4 to 8 eggs, with an average of 7 eggs.

Incubation: Both parents incubate the eggs for 23 days. The eggs are usually covered with vegetation when adults are off the nest.

Fledging: Young can leave the nest within one day of hatching, but usually stay on the nest platform. Both parents feed the young and may carry them on their backs, even while swimming underwater.  Soon after hatching the young are able to swim on their own.

Nest: Both parents build the nest, which is a floating mass of vegetation in shallow water anchored to emergent vegetation.

Status in Tennessee: The Pied-billed Grebe is a fairly common migrant and winter resident in large bodies of water throughout the state.  During the summer they are rare, breeding in scattered locations across Tennessee.

Most breeding records are from shallow ponds and lakes with open water and standing rushes, cattails, and grasses. Fall migrants and wintering individuals arrive in August and remain into May.

Dynamic map of Pied-billed Grebe eBird observations in Tennessee

Fun Facts:

The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen in flight because it migrates at night. It escapes predators by diving.
Grebes do not have webbed feet like ducks and geese. Instead they have a flap of skin around each toe.
Obsolete English Names: pied-billed dabchick, di-dapper





Sources:
Muller, M. J., and R. W. Storer. 1999. Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). In The Birds of North America, No. 410 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Nicholson, C. P. 1997. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale

Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2021, 02:51:05 AM »

Double-crested Cormorant
Phalacrocorax auritus


The Double-crested Cormorant is the most numerous and widespread cormorant in North America and the only one found in large numbers inland.  It nests in scattered colonies with herons and egrets on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the interior of the continent.
The winter range includes the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Mexico, and the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina to Belize.  Smaller numbers winter inland along large rivers and lakes near the Mississippi.
While never abundant, this bird disappeared as a nesting species in Tennessee between 1955 and 1992, most likely due to eggshell thinning caused by DDT. It currently breeds in colonies with other herons in scattered locations across the state.

Rangewide Double-crested Cormorant numbers have recovered to such an extent that they are currently being blamed for declines in sport fisheries, devastating fish farms, and denuding nesting sites.

Description: This large, dark waterbird has a long body, and a long neck.  Adults have black plumage, an orange-yellow patch of skin at the base of their slender, hook-tipped bill, and eyes that are brilliant turquoise.  In breeding plumage, adults have two tufts of feathers behind their eyes, hence the name 'double-crested.' First-year birds are pale on the upper breast and darker on the belly.  Double-crested Cormorant characteristically rest in trees or on the shore with wings outstretched.  In flight, they have a pronounced kink in their long necks.
Length: 33"
Wingspan: 52"
Weight: 3.7 lbs.

Similar Species:
Anhingas, rare in West Tennessee, have a longer, thinner neck, a longer, thinner pointed bill, a longer tail, and males have a silver patch in the wing. Anhingas soar on long, broad wings, while cormorants do not soar.
Neotropic Cormorants, very rare in West Tennessee, are smaller and thinner, the tail longer, and the bare skin around the face smaller.
Habitat: Found on open water, reservoirs, larger lakes, and wide stretches of rivers across Tennessee. They nest on islands on some of the larger lakes in Tennessee.

Diet: Primarily fish, but also crawfish and other aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates.

Nesting and reproduction: Double-crested Cormorants first nest when they are 3 years old, and most birds nest in colonies with herons and egrets. Egg laying can begin as early as April and extends into May. Only one brood is raised per year.
Clutch Size: Usually 4 eggs with a range of 2 to 7 eggs.
Incubation: Both adults incubate the eggs for 25 to 29 days
Fledging: The young first fly at 5 to 6 weeks and are independent in about 10





Fun Facts:
Double-crested Cormorant chicks are often exposed to direct sun. Adults will shade them with their bodies and will bring them water, pouring it from their mouths into those of the chicks.
Captive birds will perch with wings open as if to dry them, even if they have not gotten wet.
Due to significant population increase and range expansion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published an Environmental Impact Statement on managing Double-crested Cormorant populations in 2003.
Obsolete English Names: water turkey, cormorant, snake bird, shag





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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2021, 02:56:20 AM »

Great Blue Heron,
Ardea herodias

The Great Blue Heron is the largest and most familiar heron in Tennessee.   It is a year round resident and often mistakenly referred to as a “crane”.

The Great Blue Heron is widespread across North America in both saltwater and freshwater habitats from southern Alaska and central Canada southward to northern Central America and the Caribbean.

It spends the winter throughout most of its breeding range, with some individuals migrating to southern Central America and northern South America.

Description: This large, mostly gray heron has long legs, a long “S” shaped neck, and a long yellowish bill. The head is white, aside from a black stripe that extends over the eye forming a plume on the back of the neck. The legs are brownish or greenish with rust colored thighs. In flight the Great Blue Heron typically holds its head in toward its body and looks enormous with its six-foot wingspan.

Both sexes look alike.
Length: 46" (height)
Wingspan: 72"
Weight: 5.3 lbs.

Similar Species:
Sandhill Cranes are larger, are solid gray with a red cap, and fly with their necks extended. They are most often found in large open fields, generally in flocks, rather than as lone individuals like the Great Blue Heron.
Little Blue Herons are much smaller, more slender, are uniformly dark blue-gray, and are uncommon to rare away from the Mississippi River in Tennessee.
Tricolored Herons are smaller and more slender, have a white belly contrasting sharply with a dark chest, and are rare away from the Mississippi River in Tennessee.
Habitat: In Tennessee the Great Blue Heron is found along lakeshores, rivers, ponds, streams, and occasionally grassy fields near water. Nesting colonies are often located on islands or in wooded swamps, locations that discourage predation by snakes and mammals.

Diet: Fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. When foraging they walk slowly, stand and stab prey with a quick lunge of the bill.

Nesting and reproduction: Great Blue Herons begin reoccupying nest sites on warm days as early as January; peak egg laying is about mid-March. Nesting colonies, sometimes numbering several hundred pairs, are typically located near water and may include other species of herons. Individuals usually do not nest until at least 2 years old.

Clutch Size: Usually 3 to 4 eggs, occasionally up to 7.
Incubation: Both adults incubate the eggs for 28 days.
Fledging: Both parents regurgitate food for the nestlings, which fledge when about 60 days old. The young continue retuning to the nest to be fed by the adults for another few weeks.
Nest: Both adults build the large platform nest of sticks and line it with dry grass, leaves, or smaller twigs. Nests from previous years are often rebuilt. Nest heights range from 10' to 130'.
Status in Tennessee: The Great Blue Heron is a fairly common permanent resident across the state. Colonies may contain other heron species and have a few to several hundred pairs.
Great Blue Herons were listed as In-Need-of-Management from 1976 to 1986, but were removed when the population began to increase. There has been a steady growth in the number of colonies and individuals in the state since the 1980s.

Dynamic map of Great Blue Heron eBird observations in Tennessee


Fun Facts:
The Great Blue Heron eats primarily fish, but occasionally forages in fields where it catches voles and mice.
Great Blue Herons have been known to choke to death trying to eat a fish that is too large to swallow.
In recent years Great Blue Herons have found that fish hatcheries are easy places to catch fish, causing great concern among fish farmers. However, a study found that the fish that the herons ate were mostly diseased fish that would have died shortly anyway. Since sick fish spent more time near the surface of the water they are more easily caught by herons.
Obsolete English Names: crane, blue crane



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'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2021, 08:30:30 PM »

Great Egret
Ardea alba

The Great Egret is the largest of the white herons to occur in Tennessee.   Its name has changed several times in the past 100 years and is playfully called the Great Common American Egret by birdwatchers.   This species is wide-ranging occurring in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.   

The Great Egret can be found along lakes, ponds, and rivers, primarily in West Tennessee, from March through October with a few individuals occasionally spending the winter in the state.

Description: This large, long-necked, long-legged wading bird is pure white with a yellow bill and dark legs and feet. In breeding plumage adults have longish plumes descending from their tails. They typically fly with their neck pulled back in a S-curve.  Males and females look the same.

Length: 39" (height)

Wingspan: 51"

Weight: 1.9 lbs.

Similar Species:

Snowy Egrets are smaller, have a black bill that is yellow only near the eye, and dark legs with yellow feet.
The immature Little Blue Heron (last Little Blue Heron image at link) is also white, but is smaller, has pale greenish legs, and a pale bill with a black tip.
Cattle Egrets can have a yellow bill and black legs during the non-breeding season, but are much shorter and stockier. During the breeding season they have a orange wash over the head, back, and chest. Cattle Egrets are often found foraging in grassy fields and farm fields rather than near water.
Habitat: Lakeshores, large marshes, rivers, ponds, and rarely grassy fields near water.

Diet: Fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals.  When foraging they walk slowly, stands and stabs prey with quick lunge of the bill.

Nesting and reproduction: Great Egrets nest in colonies with other herons and egrets, mainly in West Tennessee, but small numbers are found in colonies in Middle and East Tennessee. They begin arriving at nesting colonies in March.

Clutch Size: In Tennessee, clutches of 2 to 5 eggs have been found, with 4 eggs most common.
Incubation: Both adults incubate for 23 to 26 days.
Fledging: The male and female regurgitate food for the young, which are able to climb into tree limbs at 2 to 3 weeks old, and can fly to follow their parents to feed at 6 weeks of age.
Nest: Begun by the male during courtship, the nest is a stick platform placed in trees or shrubs in seasonally or permanently flooded forested wetlands.  Nests from previous years are often rebuilt.  Nest heights range from 8 to 40 feet.

Status in Tennessee: The Great Egret is an uncommon breeding bird and a rare winter visitor to the state.   It nests in scattered colonies with other herons and egrets primarily in West Tennessee, but has been recorded nesting elsewhere in the state.   

The Great Egret is most numerous in Tennessee in late summer when post-breeding migrants from outside the state are present.   

In 1976 the Great Egret was listed as In-Need-of-Management because of declining numbers and threats to wetlands.   Current Breeding Bird Survey results indicate the population may be increasing in the state.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2021, 08:33:25 PM »

  Great Egret, Continued...


https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/wildlife/birds/great-egret/jcr%3acontent/contentFullWidth/tn_panel/content/tn_columnctrl/column_parsys1/tn_image_1649573820.img.gif/1582055017357.gif

Fun Facts:

Plume hunters in the late 1800s and early 1900s reduced North American populations by more than 95 percent. After the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 populations began to recover.
The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. The National Audubon Society was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.
Aggression among nestlings is common and large chicks frequently kill their smaller siblings.
The longevity record for a wild Great Egret is nearly 23 years.
Obsolete English Names: American egret, common egret, white egret

Best places to see in Tennessee: Great Egrets can be found statewide around lakes, rivers, farm ponds, streams, and occasionally in pastures, especially in West Tennessee.  Most easily found during August and September.



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'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2021, 08:38:03 PM »

Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis



Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis, Breeding plumage. Photo Credit: Dave Hawkins
The Cattle Egret is a gregarious small heron more often found in pastures and along roadsides than in wetlands.  It is often seen following cows, horses, and tractors feeding on the insects that they stir up.  Until the late 19th century the Cattle Egret only existed in Africa and Asia.  It apparently naturally arrived in northeastern South America in the 1880s and established a breeding population.

This population rapidly expanded reaching Florida in the early 1940s and Tennessee in 1961.  In the next 50 years it became one of the most abundant of the North American herons, and is now found from Alaska to Newfoundland and has bred in nearly every state.

During the winter it migrates to the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Florida, and southward into Latin America.

Description: The Cattle Egret is all white during the non-breeding season, and is washed with orange-buff on the top of the head, chest, and back during the breeding season (March-July).  Also during the breeding season, the yellow eyes and bill, and the black legs change to bright pink.  The Cattle Egret has a rather short, thick neck and often sits in a hunched posture.

Both the male and female look the same.

Length: 20" (height)
Wingspan: 36"
Weight: 12 oz
Similar Species:

Snowy Egrets are slimmer, have a black bill with yellow near the eye, and black legs with yellow feet.
The immature Little Blue Heron is white but has pale greenish legs, and a pale bill with a black tip.
Great Egrets are much larger, with a longer neck, yellow bill, and black legs and feet.
Habitat: Forages in many habitats including lawns, fields, roadsides, ponds, and pastures, often in association with grazing animals

Diet: Grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, flies, frogs, and moths.

Nesting and reproduction: Breeds in colonies with other herons on islands, isolated woods, and swamps.

Clutch Size: Usually 3 to 4 eggs, but occasionally as many as 5 eggs.

Incubation: Both parents incubate for 22 to 26 days

Fledging: Both adults regurgitate food for the young who start climbing around the nest after 3 weeks and are independent of parents by about 6.5 weeks.

Nest: The male brings nest material to the female, who builds a bulky platform of sticks and leaves, usually built over water, in willows or dense shrubs.

Status in Tennessee: The first record of a Cattle Egret in Tennessee was in 1961 in Anderson County.  The first nesting record was of 8 nests in a mix-species heron colony in Dyersburg in 1964.  Currently it is a fairly common summer resident in West Tennessee and rare in Middle and East Tennessee.

Cattle Egrets arrive in the state in early April and depart by November.  The number of breeding individuals and the number of colonies they nest in has varied, but there continues to be an overall increasing trend.  Cattle Egrets may compete with native species for nest sites in some areas, but in general, their impact on native species is considered minimal.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2021, 08:41:57 PM »

Cattle Egret, continued


Dynamic map of Cattle Egret eBird observations in Tennessee


Fun Facts:

The Cattle Egret is native to Africa and Asia, and only reached the Americas in the late 19th century. It was first found in northeastern South America in 1877, and reached the United States in 1941, nesting for the first time in 1953. It is now one of the most abundant herons in North American.
As they do in Africa, Cattle Egrets often follow large animals (or farming equipment) to catch the insects they stir up. They have even been observed along the side the runways of airports waiting for airplanes to pass and blow insects out of the grass. Cattle Egrets are also attracted to smoke and come from long distances to catch insects trying to escape the fire.
It has been estimated that Cattle Egrets are able to gather 50% more food and use only two-thirds as much energy when they feed in association with livestock as opposed to feeding alone.








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Phyl

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Re: COMMON BIRDS OF TENNESSEE
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2021, 02:33:27 AM »

Green Heron,
Butorides virescens



he Green Heron is the most widely distributed and probably the most abundant wading bird in Tennessee.  It is a small, stocky, dark-colored heron found foraging along streams, and shorelines of ponds and lakes.  It can be difficult to spot because it stands motionless, body lowered and stretched out horizontally, waiting for small fish to approach within striking range. 

It occupies freshwater habitats from southern Canada through Central America, avoiding the higher and drier areas of the continent, and winters in the southeastern United States, Central, and northern South America.

Description: The overall impression is that this is a small dark heron. In good light, it is possible to see that adults have a dark cap on the head, a dark iridescent, greenish-blue back, and a dark, rust-colored neck. The legs are yellowish, the bill is long dark and pointed, and the neck is often kept pulled in tight to the body giving the bird a stocky appearance.

Juvenile birds (July-March) are brownish overall with a dark cap and a brown-and-white streaked neck.

Males and females look similar but females are slightly smaller and duller.

Length: 18" (height)
Wingspan: 26"
Weight: 7 oz
Voice: Call is a bold, loud single skeow, often given in flight.

Similar Species:

American Bitterns are much larger, a more golden brown and lack the dark cap.
Least Bitterns are smaller, slimmer, have a large pale patch in the wing, are pale below, and are rarely seen away from thick marsh (cattails) habitat.
Immature Black-crowned night-herons and Yellow-crowned Night-herons are larger and more robust with thicker bills.
Habitat: Streams, ponds, small lakes, and large reservoirs.

Diet: Small fish, invertebrates, insects, frogs, and other small animals.

Nesting and reproduction: Unlike most herons, the Green Heron is typically a solitary nester or nests in small, loose colonies of less than 10 nests.

Clutch Size: 4 to 5 eggs are most common in Tennessee, with a range of 3 to 6 eggs.

Incubation: Both parents incubate for about 21 days

Fledging: Both parents regurgitate food for the young who are able to climb into tree limbs at about 10 days and start to fly at about 21 days. The parents continue to feed the young until they fledge after about 30 to 35 days.

Nest: The male starts the nest, bringing long, thin sticks to the female who finishes the nest.  The nest is a thin platform placed in small trees or shrubs, usually near or over water and may be reused in subsequent years. Nest heights in Tennessee have ranged from 3 to 40 feet above the ground.

Status in Tennessee: Green Herons are a fairly common summer resident across the state at lower elevations. They usually arrive by late March or early April and depart by early November.  According to Breeding Bird Survey data, their numbers appear to be declining.
'Which is more beautiful — feline movement or feline stillness?' Elizabeth Hamilton

'A man who never sees a bluebird only half lives.'
Edwin Way Teale