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Wildlife Programs: Birds


Eastern Bluebird Bring your binoculars! Avid birdwatchers and those who have joined past Bird Walks, sponsored by the UT Arboretum Society, are very familiar with that phrase. But binoculars are not a requirement for enjoying the sights and sounds of the many bird species found at the Arboretum during all seasons. Cardinals, Rufous-sided Towhees, Carolina Wrens, Song Sparrows, and Mockingbirds are year-round residents and can almost always be spotted along most trails. Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Whitebreasted Nuthatches, and several species of woodpeckers such as the Downy, Hairy, and Pileated, can be found on a walk along the Oak Hickory and Lost Chestnut Trails. The Holly Garden and Conifer Collections above the Heath Cove, are home to American Goldfinches, House Finches, Robins, and Eastern Bluebirds. Other common year-round birds include Blue Jays, American Crows, Grackles, and European Starlings.

The number of observable bird species increases during the spring and fall migration seasons. From February through May and August through October, migrants stop to rest and eat insects or berries before moving on to their summer or winter homes. Species spotted include Swainson’s Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Solitary Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager and many wood warblers.

An eye to the sky may reward visitors with a circling Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, or Turkey Vulture.

Click on these links to view a Bird List of the many species that have been observed at the Arboretum. For additional bird watching information and locations visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Tennessee Birding Trail website at

Bird Projects and Educational Outreach

As a natural wildlife habitat, the Arboretum offers a particularly good combination of cover and food for birds. A mix of deciduous and evergreen plants provides cover; insect populations and seeds from a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants provides food. But sometimes nature needs a helping hand. Over the years, individual and group projects have helped to enhance the attraction of birds to the Arboretum.

Sascha Richey's Bluebird Box Donation One such project has been the building of bluebird boxes. Success in the increase of bluebird populations was apparent from the beginning (over thirty years ago), and ever since, more and more boxes have been added.

In 2013, Sascha Richey, left, donated eight new Bluebird nesting boxes as part of her Girl Scout leadership/community outreach project requirement.

Raptor Center Hawk Release In 2011, the Clinch River Raptors Center in Anderson County, TN, released a rescued broadwinged hawk at the UT Arboretum. Raptors Center volunteer members had rehabilitated the hawk after it was found at too early an age to survive in the wild on its own. The Clinch River Raptor Center is a project of the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO). Pictured from left to right in the photo, Kevin P. Hoyt, Forest Resources Center Director; Katie Cottrell, Clinch River Raptors Center; David Mercker, UT Extension Forester; and the Broadwinged Hawk.

Sarah Lloyd's Wood Duck Boxes Recently, Sarah Lloyd built and donated wood duck nesting boxes to the Arboretum (Her proud father Peter is shown in the photo at left with her.) One of her donated wood duck nesting boxes is installed in the pond near the Arboretum office.

Kathy Strunk, Clinch River Raptors Center Member, with Owl As an educaational outreach, the UT Arboretum Society sponsors an annual "Owl Prowl" that is a favorite fall event for area families. Members of the Clinch River Raptors Center in Anderson County, TN begin the evening with a question and answer session - complete with several live owls from the Raptor Center - then lead a group "prowl" on the Arboretum grounds in hopes of hearing the calls of the resident owl population. Watch for upcoming "Prowls" on our web site,, Events page.

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: