Tennessee’s Rich Avian Diversity: Over 400 Bird Species Calling it Home

Tennessee is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting a remarkable avian diversity with over 400 species calling it home. Among the feathered inhabitants of this vibrant state, there are 7 different species of woodpeckers that capture the attention of nature lovers. These include the Pileated Woodpecker, a magnificent North American species that can be found in Tennessee throughout the year. Additionally, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, with its distinct call, and the smallest member of the woodpecker family, the Downy Woodpecker, are also commonly sighted in this picturesque region. Whether it’s the Northern Flicker, known for its ant-digging skills, or the eye-catching Red-headed Woodpecker, every woodpecker species adds its own touch of charm to Tennessee’s rich avian tapestry. While the Hairy Woodpecker and Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker may be less frequently encountered, they still contribute to the beauty of the state’s woodpecker population. Bird enthusiasts seeking to attract these fascinating creatures are encouraged to provide food, preserve dead trees, set up nest boxes, and foster native fruit-bearing plants and trees. With such efforts, one can enjoy the lively presence of these enchanting birds while cherishing the enchantment of Tennessee’s diverse woodpecker community.

Avian Diversity in Tennessee

Tennessee is a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting over 400 species of birds within its borders. One group of birds that captures the attention of many bird enthusiasts is woodpeckers. These fascinating birds are known for their unique behavior, striking plumage, and distinct calls. In Tennessee, there are seven species of woodpeckers that can be found, each with its own characteristics that make it a delight to observe.

Woodpeckers in Tennessee

Pileated Woodpeckers

One of the most iconic woodpeckers found in Tennessee is the Pileated Woodpecker. This magnificent bird is the largest species of woodpecker in North America and can be easily recognized by its striking appearance. With its bold black and white plumage, vibrant red crest, and large size, the Pileated Woodpecker is a sight to behold. These woodpeckers can be found year-round in Tennessee, inhabiting mature forests and wooded areas.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Another common woodpecker species in Tennessee is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Despite its name, the red belly of this bird is often not visible. Instead, its vibrant red head stands out prominently. The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker and can be found year-round in Tennessee. Its distinct call, resembling a rolling “churr,” can often be heard echoing through the trees. These woodpeckers tend to inhabit woodlands, forests, and even suburban areas.

Downy Woodpeckers

The smallest species of woodpecker in Tennessee is the Downy Woodpecker. These charming birds are a common visitor to backyard feeders throughout the state. With their black and white plumage, small size, and gentle drumming sounds, Downy Woodpeckers are a delight to observe. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and even city parks.

Northern Flickers

The Northern Flicker is a distinctive woodpecker species found year-round in Tennessee. With its gray-brown plumage, spotted belly, and prominent white rump, this woodpecker stands out among its counterparts. One of the unique behaviors of the Northern Flicker is its love for digging in the ground in search of ants, making it a fascinating bird to watch. These woodpeckers can be found in a range of habitats, including woodlands, open fields, and suburban areas.

Red-headed Woodpeckers

As its name suggests, the Red-headed Woodpecker is known for its striking red head. These woodpeckers can be found year-round in Tennessee, although they are less common compared to other species. Their bold black and white plumage, paired with their vibrant red head, creates a visually stunning appearance. Red-headed Woodpeckers prefer open woodlands, groves, and forest edges as their habitat.

Hairy Woodpeckers

The Hairy Woodpecker closely resembles the Downy Woodpecker in appearance, but it is larger and less common in Tennessee. These woodpeckers have a black and white plumage, with the males boasting a vibrant red patch on the back of their heads. Hairy Woodpeckers can be found in mature forests and woodlands, where they forage for insects on tree trunks and branches.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is the only species of woodpecker found in Tennessee that is not present year-round. These unique woodpeckers are known for their drilling of sap holes in trees, which they then feed on. Their plumage consists of a black and white pattern with a yellow belly, distinguishing them from other woodpecker species. Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers can be found in Tennessee during their migration seasons, mainly in the fall and spring.

Tips for Attracting Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers can bring joy and excitement to any backyard, and attracting them is relatively easy with a few simple steps. Here are some tips to create an inviting environment for these fascinating birds:

Offering Food

Woodpeckers have a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Attract them to your backyard by offering suet cakes or bird feeders filled with peanuts, sunflower seeds, or dried fruit. Providing a diverse array of food options will increase the chances of attracting different species of woodpeckers.

Leaving Dead Trees Alone

Dead trees, also known as snags, are incredibly valuable to woodpeckers. These trees provide nesting cavities and a steady source of food, as they attract insects. By leaving dead trees standing in your yard, you create a natural habitat that woodpeckers will be drawn to.

Putting Up Nest Boxes

If you’re eager to provide suitable nesting sites for woodpeckers, consider installing nest boxes specifically designed for these birds. The dimensions of the entrance hole and the depth of the box should be appropriate for each species. Place the nest boxes in quiet areas away from human disturbance but still within view for observation.

Planting Native Fruit-Bearing Plants and Trees

Woodpeckers have a fondness for fruit, so planting native fruit-bearing plants and trees in your yard can attract them. Species such as dogwood, serviceberry, and elderberry provide a valuable food source for woodpeckers and other birds. Additionally, these plants contribute to overall biodiversity and support a healthy ecosystem.

Providing a Water Source

Woodpeckers, like other birds, need access to clean water for drinking and bathing. Installing a birdbath or a shallow basin with fresh water can entice woodpeckers to visit your yard. Ensure that the water source is placed in a safe and visible location, away from potential predators. Regularly clean and refill the birdbath to maintain hygiene.

By implementing these tips, you can create an inviting space for woodpeckers in your backyard. These amazing birds will provide endless fascination as they go about their foraging, drumming, and nesting activities. Enjoy the beauty and diversity of woodpeckers in Tennessee by creating a welcoming environment for them to thrive.

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