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Cook Public Recreation Area

Birding Seasons:
Spring A-
Summer C
Fall A-
Winter A+

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Site Description and Habitats

The main paved road ends at a boat ramp and a lake view. The recreation area is open in summer
and leads to restrooms and a beach. The woods are mixed hardwoods with extensive cedar thickets. The lake views are excellent from the boat ramp and shorelines. An old campground loop is gated off, but you can park along the side of the road (in winter only) and walk the old loop road through the woods. Sunsets can be great!

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration:
Gulls and terns are possible at various times during migration. Black Terns are likely and have been seen on the lake in the area in spring and late summer (August).

There's really not much to see in summer but boaters, fisherman, and people goofing around.

Common Loon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, large numbers of Horned Grebe, occasionally massive flocks of Ring-billed Gulls with possibly thousands of Bonaparte's Gulls. Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, Redhead, oassionally Canvasback, and Hooded Merganser. American Woodcock are occasionally seen on the edges of the thickets around the small fishing pond or herd displaying in February and March at sunset.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle, Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl

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Detailed directions for birding Cook Public Recreational Area
Take I-40 East from Nashville and take Exit 221B - Old Hickory Boulevard. Turn right on Old Hickory Boulevard and travel approximately 1 mile to stop light at Bell Road. Turn left on Bell Road and travel approximately 1 mile to stop light. Turn right on New Hope Road and travel approximately 2 miles to Stewarts Ferry Pike. Turn right on Stewarts Ferry Pike (T in the road) and travel approximately 1 mile to Old Hickory Boulevard. Turn left on Old Hickory Boulevard and travel approximately 1 1/2 mile to recreation area entrance. The boat ramp is at the end of the road. Walk the shoreline (in winter when the water is low) south to view the lake.

Best birding is early morning or late in the day in winter (Dec-Feb or March). Winter is when large numbers of loons and gulls can be found roosting, loafing or foraging. Waterfowl are hit or miss, but mst likely seen first thing in the morning (dawn or pre-dawn) or sunset.

The best birding is done by walking the shoreline south from the parking lot at the boat ramp. From the road coming down the hill to the boat ramp parking lot, walk the shoreline on the left to the end of the peninsula, which provides massive 270 degree views of the lake. A scope is NECESSARY to see most birds as the distance is great. Repeated scanning late in the day in winter is excellent as new birds appear to arrive every time you scan the lake.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Area Entrance: 36.13184, -86.59518

Fees and Hours
Open during day light hours, year round. In summer, the beach area has a $4 fee per car, but this area is only open in summer. The boat ramp area is free and when the beach area is gated, access is free via foot travel.

Seasonal restrooms are available.

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