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Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge

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

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Site Description and Habitats

The area contains a mix of bottomland hardwood, cypress swamp, marsh, cropland and open water habitats. A wildlife drive, hiking trails, and an observation platform (on Long Point Rd) provide easy access to sites where a wide variety of birds may be observed. The area contains a mix of farmland, bottomland hardwood forest, cypress swamp, and marshland habitats. Walnut Log Road, accessed past the headquarters, provides a 2+mile long road through bottomland forests and ends at an observation platform over the lake. There is also a 0.5 mile long boardwalk that loops through the forest, but comes out further down the paved road, so you can walk the road back to your vehicle.

Bird species of interest:

Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers can be common including Cerulean, Swainson’s, Blackburnian, Yellow, Bay-breasted Warblers and flycatchers including Least and Yellow-bellied are possible in May. Look for Mississippi Kites, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and possible Anhinga. American Bittern may occur anywhere.

Summer: Cerulean and Swainson’s Warbler are uncommon breeding birds here.

Winter: Bald Eagles, wintering waterfowl

Year-Round: Bald Eagles, Barred Owl are frequently seen and heard

Rarities Seen at this Site: Black-billed Whistling Duck, Black-billed Cuckoo

Species List via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Reelfoot NWR

Species List via eBird Hotspot Explorer - Walnut Log Rd

There are several other hotspots around Reelfoot NWR.

Submit your data to eBird here

Other wildlife viewing opportunities
In the warm months, butterflies and dragonflies can be abundant. White-tailed deer.

Detailed directions for birding Reelfoot NWR
Refuge Headquarters are located approximately 15 miles southwest of Union City Tennessee. From Union City take highway 22 north approximately 15 miles, turn right on highway 157, refuge headquarters is located exactly 1 mile on left. The main part of the refuge can be accessed by taking a side road to the left that intersects Highway 157 about a mile past the refuge headquarters buildings.

Walnut Log Rd: drive out Walnut Log Rd and stop and various pull offs, hike the boardwalk/trail that takes you through the swamp, and at the end of the road, explore the observation tower out over the lake.

To Long Point Unit: From Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, take TN Highway 157 north to the Kentucky line (road changes to KY Highway 311 at this point). Turn left about 3 miles past the state line onto KY Highway 1282 and go about 3 miles to access Long Point Road located on the south side of Highway 1282. Follow this road into the refuge.

Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Headquarters: 36.452106, -89.30019
Walnut Log Rd access:
36.466835, -89.318603

Fees and Hours
No fees are required to access these areas. The areas are accessible during daylight hours year round.

Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates.

Mosquitoes can be terrible in warm weather! Take bug spray.

Restrooms are located at the Headquarters Visitor’s Center, Hwy 157, which is Mon-Fri, from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

Reelfoot NWR
4343 Highway 157
Union City, TN 38261
Phone: 731/538-2481

Info for other sites
Tennessee’s Watchable Wildlife web site