Birds are any of various warm-blooded, egg-laying, feathered vertebrates of the class Aves, having forelimbs modified to form wings. Nashville Zoo has many different species of birds in the Aviary, Critter Encounters, Bamboo Trail, Lorikeet Landing, and other places throughout the Zoo.

  • Blue-billed Curassow


    Moist lowland forests

    Critically Endangered

    25+ yrs in captivity

    Size of a wild turkey and weighs 7-8lbs

    Fruit, seeds, nuts, small invertebrates

    The blue-billed curassow is the world’s most threatened species of the cracid family of crested game birds found primarily in Latin America. This curassow is the only example with distinctive blue bill ornaments, earning the species its common name. Very little is known about this bird in the wild due to its rarity; while at one time its range stretched 106,700 square kilometers, it’s now restricted to only a fragmented 2,090-square-kilometer forest area in northern Colombia. The blue-billed curassow has been severely harmed by losing nearly 99% of its habitat over the past decade due to agriculture and other habitat-destroying industries.

    We financially support the El Paujil Bird Reserve in Colombia.

  • Cassowary

    Northern Australia and New Guinea

    Tropical lowland forests, wetlands, beaches


    Up to 40 years

    120-140 lbs, 4-5.5 ft

    Fruit, snails, frogs, eggs

    Double-wattled cassowaries are solitary birds that live in some of the oldest rainforests in the world known as the “wet tropics.” They are the second largest birds in the world after the ostrich. They can be distinguished by their helmet-like casque atop their head and red wattles on their neck.

    Cassowaries are important to the diversity of the rainforest. They consume over 78 different species of plants. Their poop helps to germinate new plants by spreading the seeds of the consumed plants. Female cassowaries will lay their eggs and leave the males to do all the incubating and raising of the chicks for up to 9 months. You can see our cassowaries across from Kangaroo Kickabout.

    We participate in breeding efforts to preserve the species.

  • Caribbean Flamingo

    Southern Florida to Northern South America

    Tropical lagoons, salt water lakes

    Least Concern

    Up to 40 years

    Up to 7 lbs, 57 in

    Mollusks, crustaceans, algae, worms, aquatic plants

    Caribbean flamingos are one of 6 species of flamingos which can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. During breeding season they gather in colonies of 5,000 - 100,000 birds. After attracting a partner through an elaborate mating dance a pair of flamingos will begin to build a mud mound on which the female will lay her egg. Both males and females will help incubate the egg and they share responsibilities in caring for the chick.  Flamingos are born gray and do not get their pink feathers until 1-3 years of age. Their diet contains carotenoid pigments which will give them their characteristic pink color. Flamingos are filter feeders and hold their head upside down in shallow water to strain out their food. Flamingos very rarely lay down and even sleep standing up, often only on one leg. You can see our flamingos in Flamingo Lagoon.

  • Common Barn Owl

    Every continent, except Antarctica

    Nest in caves, tree cavities, buildings

    Least Concern

    15-20 yrs in captivitiy

    About 2 lbs

    Small mammals, rodents, birds

    Barns owls are the most widespread of any owl species and can be found in any habitat that meets their needs. As with other owls they swallow their prey whole and then cough up pellets which contain all the non-digestible parts of their prey such as bones and fur.

    Barn owls have great eyesight but they are renowned for their ability to hear extremely soft noises. A barn owl hunting in complete darkness can still locate and capture prey using sound alone. Barn owls have been known to nest in hollow trees and artificial nest boxes but earn their name by often taking up residence in old buildings such as abandoned barns and silos. You can see our barn owls at the Croft House barn.

  • Lorikeet

    East coast of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia

    Coastal forests

    Species dependent

    Up to 25 years

    Up to 5.5 oz, 12 in long

    Nectar, pollen, fruits, berries, unripe grain

    Lorikeets are very loud and social parrots. They roost at night in groups of up to thousands, and are very active in the mornings and evenings foraging in smaller groups. While other parrot species eat seeds and nuts, Lorikeets have evolved a long tongue that is covered in fine brush-like papillae that helps them gather pollen and nectar from flowers. Lorikeets can feed on thousands of species of plants, making them important pollinators in their native habitat. You can help feed our eight species of Lorikeets at Lorikeet Landing.

  • Mandarin Duck

    Eastern Asia

    Wooded waterways, swamps, lakes

    Least Concern

    Up to 10 years

    About 2.5 lbs, 9.5 in

    Grains, seeds, insects, vegetation

    Mandarin ducks are “perching” ducks which means that their legs are set far forward on their body and they are able to walk on land more easily and can often be found perching in trees. Male Mandarin Ducks are considered to be some of the most beautiful ducks. But the bright distinctive plumage of the males is lost during the summer months and it is difficult to tell males and females apart. The males will regain their bright feathers sometime in the fall. Mandarin Ducks have elaborate courtships displays and once paired will remain together for several seasons. They make their nests up to 30 feet high in hollow trees. Females will have 9-12 ducklings that will remain with the female for about 8 weeks. Only hours after hatching, the mother will leave the nest and call her ducklings. Although they can’t fly yet, the ducklings will launch themselves from the tree, and land harmlessly below. You can see our Mandarin Ducks in the pond at Lorikeet Landing.

  • Ostrich

    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Open, dry plains and savanna

    Least Concern

    Up to 40 years

    Up to 350 lbs, 9 ft

    Leaves, seeds, grains, nuts, fruit

    The ostrich is the largest flightless bird in the world. They can run about 40 miles an hour covering 10-16 feet with a single stride. The ostrich will often use their wings as rudders to help change direction quickly while running. Ostriches will live in groups of about 12 birds. All the females of the group will place their eggs in the nest of the dominant female. A single ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs! Ostriches can often be found around other grazing animals like antelope and zebras. Ostriches have great eyesight and will often alert other animals of predators in the area. It is myth that ostriches hide their heads in the sand. They will put their necks close to the ground to try and hide from predators, from a distance it appears that their head is in the sand. You can see our ostrich on the African Plains exhibit.

  • Rhinoceros Hornbill

    Southeast Asia

    Lowland forests


    Up to 35 years

    Up to 6 lbs, 60 in wingspan

    Fruit, small mammals, lizards, snakes, insects

    The rhinoceros hornbill is one of 54 species of hornbill that exist. The rhinoceros hornbill can be distinguished by its banana-shaped casque on the top of its beak. It is thought that this is used to amplify the sound of its call. It is made out of keratin, just like our fingernails and hair and is very strong and lightweight.

    Rhinoceros hornbills chose a nest high in a tree cavity. With The female inside a breeding pair works together to cover the opening with mud and scat, leaving only a small slit to pass food through. The female stays inside the nest for 3 months incubating and caring for the eggs. You can see our rhinoceros hornbill on Bamboo Trail.

    We participate in the rhinoceros hornbill Species Survival Plan.

  • Saddle-Billed Stork

    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Tropical marshes, grasslands

    Locally endangered in South Africa

    Up to 35 years

    Up to 16 lbs, 60 in

    Aquatic and land-based vertebrates

    Saddle-billed storks are the tallest of all storks. The pointed beak of the stork is used to repeatedly stab in open water or marshlands looking for prey. Recognized by the yellow skin, or lappet, that covers the front of the bill like a “saddle.” Saddle-billed storks mate for life and each pair will build their nest away from other birds and will defend their territory from other birds. Their nests are large enough to hide the bird completely while in the nest. Female saddle-billed storks will lay up to 5 eggs and both the male and female incubate the eggs and raise the chicks in the nest. Storks are a symbol of fertility and good luck. You can see our saddle-billed storks across from the meerkats.

    We participate in the saddle-billed stork Species Survival Plan.