Pine Warbler eating a seed
Warblers are the most diverse group of birds in the Smokies.  Some breed here like Chestnut-Sided Warblers and Blackburnian Warblers, others only migrate through on their way to their breeding or wintering grounds like Kentucky Warblers and Prairie Warblers.  Pine Warblers can be seen foraging in mixed pine and pine dominated forests.

Warren Bielenberg

A red bird with black wings called a Scarlet Tanager sits on a branch with green leaves.
A Scarlet Tanager sits high in a Sycamore Tree.  Scarlet Tanagers can be found in many areas of the park that are dominated with hardwoods in the spring and summer months during its breeding season.

Warren Bielenberg

What birds can I see?

The park has documented over 240 species of birds. 60 species are year-round residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. Many other species use the park as an important stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migration. Even with over 75 years of observations, the park still adds new species to its list. In the winter of 2016/17, both the Long-eared Owl and the Ross' Goose were documented in the park for the first time. View a list of Species of Concern in the park. A comprehensive species list can be seen here Species List (

Where are the best places to view birds?

  • Cades Cove - This area has open habitat that makes viewing birds a little easier. Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane are nice places to see different species of sparrows, kingbirds, Northern Harriers, and if you're lucky in winter, a Long-eared Owl.
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center - You wouldn't think a busy area like Sugarlands would provide good birding, but the mix of open habitat with forest edge is a great place to see Northern Parulas, Hermit Thrushes, Pileated Woodpeckers and Black-Throated Green Warblers.
  • Campbell's Overlook - Summer time is a great time to see/hear Indigo Buntings and Red-Eyed Vireos here. In fact, in the early morning in spring, most overlooks along Newfound Gap Road will have breeding birds singing their hearts out in the am hours.

How can I Identify birds?

You will hear many more birds than you will see in the Smokies’ dense, tall forests. Learning the common songs of the breeding season will make birding trips more successful. Technology will make your experience even better if you download bird identification apps on your smartphone before your trip to the park. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a free app and excellent resources Cornell Lab of Ornithology—Home | Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

What can you do to protect birds?

  1. Don't use recorded calls or spotlighting in the park, this disturbs bird's natural behavior causing them stress. Sidenote, it's also illegal.
  2. Plant native, bird friendly plants and trees in your yard.
  3. Keep cats indoors.
  4. Use decals or other visual methods that can stop birds from crashing into windows.

Nearly every species of bird in the United States has experienced a declining population over the last 20 years, especially insectivores. Habitat loss is the leading cause of most bird population's decline. Birds provide a vital and free service to our food supply and the natural ecosystem by eating unwanted insect pests. Be a friend to birds and help preserve their habitat.


Recommended Reading

Books, maps and guides to the national park are available online from the park's nonprofit partner, the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Birds of the Smokies
Contains 100 color photos of park birds and special sections on where to find birds, bird songs, a complete checklist, and special birding trips in the park.

Last updated: June 30, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us