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Meeman Shelby Forest WMA and State Park

Birding Seasons:
Spring A+
Summer A
Fall A+
Winter B

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Site Description and Habitats

The site consists primarily of some 13,467 acres of upland and bottomland forests. Two thirds of the park contains bottomland forests of oak, cypress, and tupelo. There are two man-make lakes in the uplands and some natural lakes and wetland areas in the bottomlands. Many miles of hiking trails, a 5 mile long biking trail, and a paved road network provide access throughout the park. The upland forests sit atop the Chickasaw Bluffs on deep deposits of loess. The park hosts one of the finest arrays of plant and animal life in Tennessee. A boat launch on the north end of the park accesses the Mississippi River.

Eagle Lake is a site "off the beaten track." It is a floodplain lake surrounded by cypress swamp and dryer bottomland hardwood forests. When accessing the site you must pass through some beautiful loess bluff upland forest. Access is by a poorly maintained gravel road. There is a gate at the entrance on Island 40 which is open on an irregular schedule. The gate is closed during high water in the bottoms.

The “check station” road that goes past the TWRA checking station goes into the floodplain. In spring and summer, this is a great place to find Cerulean Warbler while Swainson’s Warbler can be found at the bottom of the bluffs in the cane thickets. In winter, this area is good for Winter Wrens and all woodpeckers. Wild turkey can be found on the roads on occasion.

Bird species of interest

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, thrushes, and vireos can be abundant, including Cerulean and Swainson’s Warbler and American Redstart. Mississippi Kites are common in spring. At Poplar Tree Lake, look for Warbling Vireo and Baltimore Oriole, and nesting Barn Swallows.

Summer: Cerulean, Hooded, Swainson’s, and Worm-eating Warbler, Anhinga, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Great Egrets.

Winter: Just about any rare gull, tern, or duck can be found on the Mississippi River from the boar ramp on the north side. Merlin may zip by at any time. Ross’s Geese may be seen among large flocks of Snow Geese migrating over. The woods are alive with all woodpeckers in Tennessee including Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpeckers. Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, and Rusty Blackbirds are can regular. Orange-crowned Warblers winter in small numbers.

Year-Round: Bald Eagle nest on the property. Barred Owls are found in all the wooded areas, along with Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers. Wild Turkey are often seen on the roads.

Rarities Seen at this Site: Ash-throated Flycatcher in 2013.

Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Shelby Forest SP
Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer- Poplar Tree Lake area
Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - North Rd
Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Island Forty Rd.

Submit your data to eBird here

Detailed directions for birding Meeman-Shelby Forest and Eagle Lake

From Memphis, take TN Highway 388 north until it dead ends. At the dead end, turn left and go 1 mile to a four-way stop. Look for the Shelby Forest General Store. Turn right, go 1 mile and then take a left turn into the park. Signs are provided to assist finding the park. Follow the main road through the park south to Pleasant View Rd (the TWRA Checking Station). The Checking Station Rd at the checking stations is a great place for Cerulean Warblers in May and June, yes, in the parking lot. If the gate is open, drive down or you can park and walk down the road and at the bottom of the bluffs (about 1/2 mi) is a cane thicket that has Swainson's Warblers in summer. A couple forest canopy openings next to the cane thickets are excellent spots for Baltimore Oriole and Eastern Wood-pewee.

Also, along the main paved road through the park, drive slow with your windows down and listen for Cerulean Warblers on the high areas and Louisiana Waterthrush on the creeks.

Also, explore north from the park office to North Rd which dead ends at the Mississippi River. As you drop off the bluff line, there's a large cane thicket which is a good place for Swainson's Warbler in spring and summer.

To Eagle Lake via Island 40 Rd:
Eagle lake may be accessed from the southern end of Meeman-Shelby State Park by taking Island No. 40 Road off of Benjestown Road. To get to the site from Memphis, take TN Highway 388 north until it dead ends. At the dead end, turn left and go 1 mile to a four-way stop Look for the Shelby Forest General Store. At this point take Benjestown Road south for about 3 to 4 miles to reach Island No. 40 road. Turn right on Island No. 40 road and follow it to a point where it turn abruptly left (about 1 mile). At the turn, there is a gate leading into the forest that controls access to a poorly maintained gravel road that leads west to the lake. Island 40 road can be very birdy. There used to be a large rookery on "Eagle Lake", but it was abandoned in 2011. Walk the roads in the bottoms as the forests are beautiful and it can be very birdy at any time of year.

Meeman-Shelby Forest WMA/SP map

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates

Visitors Center: 35.34387, -90.03268
TWRA Checking Station Rd (Pleasant View Rd in Google): 35.327107, -90.047135
Eagle Lake area on Island Forty Rd: 35.300942,-90.07974

Fees and Hours
No fees required for access to park. Open 7 am to 10 pm year round.

Restrooms, biking, boating, cabin, camping, picnic areas, fishing, disc golf, scheduled events horseback riding, swimming and nature center.

For tips for safely watching wildlife during hunting seasons and year round please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates.

TWRA Region I office
200 Lowell Thomas Drive, Jackson, TN 38301
800-372-3928; 731-423-5725

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
910 Riddick Road, Millington , TN 38053
901-876-5215; 800-471-5293

Info for other sites
Tennessee’s Watchable Wildlife web site