A Century Celebration

Founded in 1915 by six Nashville men who wanted to study and protect birds, the Tennessee Ornithological Society is one of our oldest conservation organizations.


Birding is a relatively simple activity…all you really need are your eyes and ears to take part. That’s one of the reasons it’s so popular. Here in the U.S. there are an estimated 52 million casual bird watchers. But some people go way beyond casual bird watching…these are serious birders. The Tennessee Ornithological Society is a haven for these more serious folks, birders with a purpose…people who not only love seeing birds in the wild, but also work to ensure that they will thrive. And they’ve been doing it now for 100 years. As Wild Side Guide Ken Tucker discovered, theirs is a rich history of committed conservation.

The Tennessee Ornithological Society continues to build on it’s rich conservation heritage by being involved in habitat restoration and preservation as well as research projects like wintertime hummingbird banding. One of their most recent efforts is a continuation of one of the group’s early projects…chimney swift research, which includes building towers for the birds and their summertime “swift night out” evening bird counts. They are always looking for new members and you don’t have to be a bird expert to join. You can learn more on their website, TNbirds.org.

“The Tennessee Ornithological Society has people who are very dedicated to knowing about birds and sharing the information about birds. They’re very patient with beginners, and it’s just a lot of fun and fellowship when you get together to go birding or having a picnic or anything that comes along with your birding. So the fellowship is very important to me.”      – Susan Hollyday, member since 1995

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Mississippi River, Tennessee is blessed with a wide range of bird habitat filled with many different species of birds. Some of these are called neotropical migratory songbirds, birds that live and breed in North America during the summer, then fly south to Central or South America for the winter. This Wild Side story will tell you much more about these frequent fliers, many of which are disappearing at an alarming rate (primarily due to habitat loss) and what you can do to help them survive.

Our state parks abound with birding opportunities and are a great place to get out and enjoy this fun activity that is rewarding for folks of all ages. Visit the state parks website to learn more about birding in Tennessee. Seven Islands State Park, located just outside of Knoxville, is specifically designed for birders. You can learn more about Seven Islands by watching this Wild Side story.

Of course you don’t have to travel great distances to enjoy birds…lots of people enjoy bird watching from the comfort of their own home. If you are one of these casual bird watchers who would like to learn a bit more about the birds you see, check out this Nature at Home segment on bird identification.

From show 3012

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